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Will December impact Michael Pittman Jr.’s decision to test free agency?

According to Spotrac, Michael Pittman Jr.’s market value is estimated at $94M over four years, an average salary of $23.5M per year.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. #11 pulls in a pass during the first half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — November 26, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana. 
Photo by Todd Rosenberg/Getty Images

Indianapolis Colts receiver Michael Pittman Jr. will be a coveted free agent for the first time in his NFL career and the final month of the regular season could impact his decision before March.

Pittman is catching stride in his fourth campaign after showcasing a season-high 10 receptions for 107 receiving yards in Indianapolis’ Week 12 win over Tampa Bay. His streak of four consecutive games with at least eight receptions is the third-longest such streak in franchise history. If the 26-year old can secure eight catches on Sunday, he will tie Marvin Harrison Sr. (311) for the most receptions by a Colts player in his first four seasons.

In 2023, “MPJ” established himself as Indianapolis’ true No. 1 option with 76 receptions (seventh in NFL) on 105 targets (eighth in NFL) through 11 games. His 6.9 receptions and 71.3 receiving yards per game are both the best of his career and he is on pace to post his first 100-catch season with over 1,200 receiving yards.

Pittman has 26 catches against man coverage, which is the third-most among receivers entering Week 13. According to Pro Football Focus, Pittman has registered just three drops while scoring a 89.5 drop grade, tied for the fourth-highest PFF drop grade. His 11 contested catches through 11 games are tied for the fifth-most among receivers this season.

Pittman thrives on short slants, crossing routes and screen plays, including the third-most receiving yards (117) on designed screens in the league. Just two of his 76 receptions were caught further than 20 yards downfield. Only Dolphins’ Tyreek Hill (21), Ravens’ Zay Flowers (20) and Bengals’ Jamaar Chase (19) enter December with more receptions on designed screen plays than Pittman with 16.

According to Spotrac, Pittman’s market value is estimated at $94M over four years, an average salary of $23.5M per year, which the Colts would owe if deciding to franchise tag him. Will Pittman desire a similar contract to the four-year, $96M deal Stefon Diggs signed with the Buffalo Bills at 28-years old?

Colts head coach Shane Steichen glossed over Pittman’s consistency on the gridiron and mentioned when the offense needs a big play, Pittman is the big time player that usually makes the big time play. Pittman encapsulates every trait to lead the core of star skill players to a winning culture in Indianapolis. With running back Jonathan Taylor sidelined while recovering from thumb surgery, Pittman will fetch a higher number of targets against the Titans.

Indianapolis enters Week 13 clinging onto the seventh spot in the AFC playoff picture. The Houston Texans and Denver Broncos both have equivalent 6-5 records, but the Colts have the best conference record among the three teams, including the head-to-head advantage over the Texans.

Reminisce back to the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, when the Colts selected the 6-foot-4 star receiver out of USC with the No. 34 draft pick. The Colts surely have Pittman in their future plans to pair alongside rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson, but does Pittman have Indianapolis in his future plans?