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INDIANAPOLISAfter multiple weeks of testing the quiet safety market, Julian Blackmon is returning to the Colts on a deal reportedly one-year in length.

With Blackmon returning, the Colts have brought back virtually all of their top free agents from a notable 2024 list of FAs.

There’s no doubt that Blackmon is a very important and versatile piece to an extremely inexperienced secondary in Indy.

Blackmon has injury history you can’t ignore (a torn Achilles, a torn ACL and a shoulder injury that sent him to injured reserve last December), but he’s also played more than 90 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in 3 of his 4 NFL seasons.

In 2023, the Colts asked Blackmon to switch to strong safety, and he seemed to really flourish there.

Blackmon had a strong contract year with career-highs in interceptions (4), passes defensed (8) and tackles for loss (5).

On top of that, Blackmon is one of the most dependable communicators on the Colts defense, something Gus Bradley has grown to trust in relaying info throughout that youthful secondary.

The season-ending loss of Blackmon in that Week 16 defeat to the Flacons was a huge late-season blow.

“I thought Julian Blackmon played really good football this year,” Chris Ballard said at the end of the season.

“It sucked when he got hurt. That hurt when we lost him. I thought he played excellent football.”

Honestly, if Blackmon’s agent wanted to remind the Colts of what his client means to their team, he should have just popped in film of the team’s season-ending loss to Texans.

While that might seem a tad harsh, that night was also a reminder of how much Blackmon meant to the Colts last season.

C.J. Stroud and Nico Collins torched the Colts in that season finale, with Blackmon nursing a shoulder injury on injured reserve.

That Christmas Eve injury to Blackmon was one deserving of plenty attention.

More so than any other high-level Colts free agent this cycle, injuries can’t completely be ignored with Blackmon.

He missed 1 game as a rookie (coming off a torn ACL). He then missed 11 games in his second season (torn Achilles in practice). And various injuries sidelined him for 5 total games in the last two years.

Add it all up, and Blackmon has missed 17 of a possible 67 career games.

That clearly was an hinderance in his market.

With the Colts, there’s also a couple of other young draft picks at safety in Nick Cross (3rd rounder in 2022) and 7th rounder Rodney Thomas II (2022), although those two shouldn’t be viewed as entrenched starters by any means.

Looking ahead to 2024, the Colts are running it back with a secondary unit Ballard took blame in failing the staff last year from not having enough adequate personnel.

-Is a late spring addition coming there in free agency, a la Rodney McLeod?

-Will the draft lead to some instant impact at cornerback or safety?

-And will we see in-house growth from the young defensive backs, who went through some on-field growing pains last year?

Re-signing Blackmon more than makes sense, but the current roster makeup has ample pressure on him (and Kenny Moore) to stay healthy and again deliver in 2025.

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