Colts send first-round pick to 49ers for DT Buckner, release DT Hunt
A person familiar with the deal said Buckner will receive a new contract worth $21 million a year from the Colts. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal and contract can’t be finalized until the start of the league year Wednesday.
Buckner was owed about $12.4 million this season on the fifth-year option of his rookie contract and was seeking a long-term deal that would make him the second-highest paid defensive tackle to the Rams’ Aaron Donald.
San Francisco coaches voted Buckner as team MVP last season. He was picked seventh overall in 2016 and was one of the few bright spots on a losing team his first three years.
He has been extremely durable, missing only one game in four seasons and having the third-most defensive snaps among linemen since 2016. His 143 quarterback pressures are the fifth most among all interior linemen over the past four years, according to NFL NextGen stats.
Buckner had a career-high 12 sacks in 2018 and then had 7 1/2 last season as part of perhaps the league’s top defensive lines with Arik Armstead and edge rushers Nick Bosa and Dee Ford.
Now Buckner will try to bolster an Indianapolis defense in bad need of help at defensive tackle after recording the third-lowest pressure rate from the interior last season, according to NextGen stats.
“We need to get more interior pressure,” general manager Chris Ballard said in January. “The three-technique drives this thing. Everywhere I’ve been, that’s the case. If a team goes 80 on us, dinking and dunking down the field, I can live with that. What burns me is giving up shots. Giving up explosive plays.”
The Colts also have released defensive tackle Margus Hunt and will re-sign receiver Daurice Fountain.
Releasing Hunt will save the Colts roughly $4 million against the cap. He signed a two-year deal worth $9.1 million last year after having his best season in the NFL. But he lost the starting job in 2019 and wound up with 17 tackles, no sacks and no tackles for loss.
Fountain spent all of last season on injured reserve after suffering a dislocated and fractured left ankle in training camp. The Colts offered the exclusive free agent a one-year tender, which his agent, Andy Simms, says he will sign. Fountain was Indy’s fifth-round pick in 2018.
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