INDIANAPOLIS – Dreams of offensive line continuity in Indianapolis continue to come true.
Another step was taken towards that on Thursday when the Colts and Ryan Kelly signed a contract extension.
With the deal, the Colts now have their entire starting offensive line signed through at least the 2021 season.
LT-Anthony Castonzo (Signed through 2021)
LG-Quenton Nelson (Signed through 2021, with a 2022 team option)
C-Ryan Kelly (Signed through 2024)
RG-Mark Glowinski (Signed through 2021)
RT-Braden Smith (Signed through 2021)
The deal is reported for 4 years and $50 million ($34 million guaranteed) and makes Kelly the highest paid center in the NFL.
Kelly started all 16 games last year, a huge goal of his after he had missed 13 games the two previous seasons.
Before the 2019 season arrived, Kelly knew his reliability was a must, if he wanted a lucrative second contract with the team that drafted him No. 18 overall in 2016.
“Really proud of Ryan Kelly,” Ballard said at the end of the 2019 season. “16 weeks, fought through, tremendous leader, is really starting to understand the group, bringing the group together, being the leader of the O-line.
“Fun to watch his growth.”
The 27-year-old Kelly is on the older side of most guys approaching the end of their rookie contracts.
But that didn’t have the Colts hesitant in making Kelly the league’s highest paid center for the next handful of years.
“I think we have something special on our offensive line and I’d like to play my entire career in Indianapolis,” Kelly said.
“I really believe I’ll be here for a while, I hope.”
Kelly was due to enter the 2020 season on the final year of his rookie contract, playing on the $10.3 million team option, which would rank 7th in the league among centers.
Earlier this offseason, Frank Reich recalled his first introduction to Kelly and what followed quickly after.
“When I first got the job here a couple of years ago, he was one of the first players that I met,” Reich says. “I remember saying to Chris, if we are going to go where we want to go as an offense, then Ryan Kelly is going to have to step up and be an alpha dog. I didn’t realize how much of an alpha dog he is.
“He has been top notch. This guy has taken complete control the offensive line room as far as calls, what we do in the protection world, in the run game. He’s a really, really smart football player. He prepares very hard. He’s tough. He’s got that personality, deep voice and talks with a lot of authority. He’s not one for much small talk. He’s just barking out the signals. I think Ryan breeds confidence. When you hear him make the calls, you hear it with authority, you hear it with conviction. I think the offensive line feeds off it. Everyone talks about Quenton and he is our inspiration in many respects, but don’t underestimate the kind of leadership that Ryan is bringing.”
Kelly is the only Colts’ first-round pick to have his fifth-year option picked up, along with earning a second contract, since Andrew Luck in 2012.