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Report: Colts Release Veteran Defensive Tackle Margus Hunt

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Carolina Panthers v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

According to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, the Indianapolis Colts are releasing veteran defensive tackle Margus Hunt before NFL free agency formally begins on Wednesday:

The 6’8”, 295 pound defensive lineman is coming off an underwhelming season for the Colts in which he recorded 17 tackles in 16 games (5 starts) in 2019.

Hunt started the Colts first three games of the 2019 season before being benched throughout the remainder of the year until the team’s final two games—when defensive tackle Denico Autry suffered a season-ending concussion, and Hunt rejoined the starting lineup.

Hunt just finished the first year of a 2-year, $9 million contract extension with the Colts (that had an extra $1 million of incentives) that he signed in the 2019 offseason—which of course, he will no longer complete.

As a result of Hunt’s release, the Colts will save $4 million of salary cap space.

Signed by the Colts in 2017, Hunt had a breakout season just a season later in 2018, recording 30 tackles, 5 sacks, a forced fumble, and 6 QB hits in 15 starts—having switched over from defensive end to nose tackle.

However, now 32 years old, he couldn’t recreate the same magic this past season and didn’t look like the same caliber of defensive lineman he was just a season earlier in 2018.

4th-year nose tackle Grover Stewart’s emergence also limited Hunt’s playing time.

The former 2013 second round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals finishes his Colts tenure with 76 tackles, 6 sacks, a forced fumble, and 13 QB hits in 47 career games (25 starts) in his 3 seasons in Indianapolis (2017-19).

Hunt’s release is hardly surprising, but it does highlight that defensive tackle remains one of the Colts top offseason needs.

It’s one that the franchise is expected to fill either by at least signing an impact starter through free agency or early on through late April’s upcoming NFL Draft—maybe both.