INDIANAPOLIS – That 2-headed monster the Colts thought would be there in 2020 has a chance to happen again in 2021.
Minutes after the new league year began on Wednesday, the Colts re-signed Marlon Mack to a 1-year deal, reportedly worth $2 million.
Even with Jonathan Taylor emerging as one of the NFL’s best running backs late last season, Mack returning made a whole lot of sense for both parties.
For the Colts, Mack gives them arguably the deepest running back room in the NFL. If healthy, Mack is the ideal, lead back insurance policy for Taylor and the Colts.
For Mack, the newly turned 25-year-old is still young enough where he can prove his health on a one-year deal—while playing behind a very good offensive line—and then seek out more money next offseason.
With Mack returning, the Colts will have him, Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins still on the roster. All three will be in contract years, as they play behind Taylor.
Currently, Mack has been hanging around the Indy area rehabbing his torn Achilles, which occurred in the 2020 season opener.
It remains to be seen when he’ll be cleared for full activity after he suffered the injury back in September.
To say the Colts love the professionalism of Mack would be an understatement.
It’s rare to hear a person with the title of Ballard make the public comments that he did on one of his own free agents.
But Ballard did that with Mack earlier this offseason, knowing the complexities involved in the running back’s pending free agency.
Mack is a former 1,000-yard rusher, who just turned 25, yet is coming off a torn Achilles, which thrust new 1,000-yard rusher Jonathan Taylor onto the scene.
Take out the Achilles, and Mack would have been one of the most sought after running backs this free agency.
Take out Taylor, and the Colts would have had massive interest in Mack as a major, longer-term priority.
“Marlon Mack’s (injury) broke my heart,” Ballard said earlier this offseason. “That sucked. That was hard. Really hard. And it was hard on him. But he’s so tough minded. I watched him work his butt off here all season to get back.
“Marlon Mack deserves a contract, unequivocally. He deserves a good contract. I don’t know if we are going to be able to do that here. Saying that, I’m not going to say, ‘Marlon is not going to be back.’ Because I think he’s really special as a player and I could just see a backfield of Marlon, Jonathan and Nyheim and Wilkins be really special. So I’m not going to discount it.”
Well, the Colts were able to bring Mack back.
Taylor certainly deserves to be viewed as a bellcow. Hines (a free agent in 2022) took strides as a runner in his third season and has still yet to miss a single practice or game in his NFL career and gives the Colts a key piece offensively. Wilkins (also a 2022 free agent) has been productive when called upon. That quartet makes up, unquestionably, one of the best backfields in the NFL.
The fear of just one injury away from needing another running back had the Colts thinking they could make some room for Mack in their ‘21 plans.
It will be a diminished role for Mack from what he’s used to, but the Colts can still incorporate him in the rotation, while featuring Taylor.
“I think Marlon Mack is a great player and deserves what he has coming to him,” Ballard says. “And he’s even a better teammate, unselfish, everything you want.”