According to The Herald Bulletin’s George Bremer, Indianapolis Colts starting linebacker Anthony Walker is hopeful that he can work out a contract extension with the only franchise he’s ever known—but his sole focus is on the 2020 season right now:
Walker: “”I’d love to be in Indianapolis forever, but it’s not up to me.”— George Bremer (@gmbremer) May 20, 2020
Said he hopes his agent and Chris Ballard can work out an extension, but his focus is just on the 2020 season. #Colts
Originally selected by the Colts in the 5th round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the 6’1”, 230 pound middle linebacker has become a rock solid starter for Indianapolis in recent seasons.
Walker recorded a team-high 124 tackles, 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble, and an interception in all 16 starts this past season.
The 24 year old linebacker is a sure tackling, cerebral, and instinctive ‘Mike’ linebacker for the Colts, who’s really formed a strong bond with his ‘partner in crime’, Darius Leonard, over the past few seasons.
While neither the most athletic nor fastest linebacker, Walker has a high football I.Q., is quick to diagnose plays, and has proven to be a very reliable starting linebacker for the Colts.
With a projected $116.2 million of cap space next offseason, the Colts have beyond the cap means to re-sign Walker to a new multi-year deal—but the franchise has other priority free agents to think about as well such as center Ryan Kelly, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, quarterback Philip Rivers, and defensive end Justin Houston among others.
There’s also the possibility that the Colts could look to move last year’s 3rd round pick Bobby Okereke—who’s quicker, explosive, and more athletic than Walker, to his more natural position of ‘Mike’ long-term.
That being said, Walker is one of the young leaders of the Colts defense, and Indianapolis should think long and hard about re-signing him—if the price is right.
Back in 2006, Hall of Fame general manager Bill Polian let starting linebacker David Thornton leave in free agency to the Tennessee Titans, who had been a tackling machine for the Colts and one of the leaders of their defense (and now is their current Director of Player Engagement). Polian later lamented the decision, calling Thornton the one free agent he wish he had re-signed—and essentially, “the one that got away”.
That’s not to say Walker is Thornton, but it’s a friendly reminder from recent franchise history that there’s something to be said for reliability, a high football I.Q., sure tackling, and leadership from a starting linebacker—even if the player isn’t necessarily the sexiest or flashiest defender out there.