Colts Pro Bowler Restructures Deal to Free Cap Space: Report

DeForest Buckner

Getty Colts defensive tackle DeForest Buckner (middle) has made one Pro Bowl (2021) in three seasons with Indianapolis.

Indianapolis Colts players were back in the team facility on April 10 for off-season workouts. One player in attendance is defensive tackle DeForest Buckner.

He is also handling the business side of things in his return. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that Buckner restructured his deal on April 12.

“The #Colts converted $5 million of DT DeForest Buckner’s salary this season into a signing bonus, clearing $2.5M in cap space,” Pelissero tweeted. “He’ll still make $19.75M, which is now fully guaranteed.”

Buckner hinted that a trade rumor involving him was inaccurate in March. That proved to be the case, as he’s already immersing himself in the team’s workout program.

With this conversion, Buckner’s cap hit will be $17.25 million this season. According to Spotrac, the Colts currently have about $23.4 million after the move.

Buckner joined Indianapolis after four years with the San Francisco 49ers in 2020 after the Colts gave up the No. 13 overall pick. Since then, Buckner has been a captain twice with the team and will likely continue to lead in that role in the two years left on his current deal.

The 2020 First-Team AP All-Pro and 2021 Pro Bowler has 200 total tackles, 24.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and nine passes knocked down in three years with the Colts.

Buckner dealt with an elbow issue that lingered since September 2022. Despite that, it didn’t affect his ability to play, as he did not miss a game all of last season.

According to The Indianapolis Star’s Joel A. Erickson, Buckner noted his injury was a UCL tear.

“He didn’t need surgery because he’s not a QB or a (baseball) pitcher,” Erickson tweeted.

Insider Reveals Buckner’s Discussion With Colts GM

The Athletic’s Zak Keefer reported that Buckner had a meeting with Colts general manager Chris Ballard after the 2022 regular season to “discuss me.”

According to Keefer, Ballard’s message to Buckner was simple: “Trust me.”

Buckner never wanted to be traded or released by the Colts this off-season. He was “in” on coming back to Indianapolis for the fourth straight year, per Keefer.

Keefer added that Buckner said that trade rumors were made up to generate clicks and engagement.

“People like to make headlines and clickbait and all that kind of stuff,” Buckner said.

But apparently, that wasn’t enough for Buckner to move on from a team that finished 4-12-1 in 2022 after winning nine games in 2021. It seems as if Buckner is heeding his general manager’s message.

Buckner Addresses Stephon Gilmore Trade

As Buckner spoke to Indianapolis media on April 12, he acknowledged cornerback Stephon Gilmore’s trade to the Dallas Cowboys in mid-March.

According to ESPN’s Stephen Holder, Buckner “made it clear” that Gilmore was traded by the Colts at his own request.

“That’s what he had to do for him and his family,” Buckner said in a tweet authored by Holder.

Despite keeping that in mind, Buckner was still disappointed by the move because he said Gilmore was “one of my favorite teammates in my career,” according to a tweet by The Herald Bulletin’s George Bremer.

In his tweet, Bremer added that Buckner said he and Gilmore are at two different points in their careers. That’s why Gilmore wants to join a contender and Buckner never considered switching teams to do so.

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