The Colts have one fewer contract concern to worry about after announcing the signing of restricted free-agent FS Antoine Bethea to a new contract early Friday afternoon. ESPN is reporting that Bethea, one of three veteran Pro Bowlers who did not participate in the Colts’ mandatory minicamp last weekend (WR Reggie Wayne and DE Robert Mathis were the others), signed a four-year, $27 million contract that will pay him about $18 million over the first two years.
It was widely believed that new deals for Bethea, Wayne and Mathis would not be seriously discussed until the Colts first settled on a new contract for QB Peyton Manning, whom team owner Jim Irsay has vowed to make the league’s richest player before the summer runs its course. Both Wayne and Mathis have publicly expressed a desire for new contracts despite having two years remaining on their current deals.
Entering his fifth season, Bethea has been a durable player for Indianapolis since joining the club as a sixth-round pick in 2006 from Howard University. He has started all 59 career appearances, including the last 32 consecutively. Bethea has amassed 446 career tackles, 269 solo, 12 passes defensed, 11 interceptions, two fumbles forced and two fumbles recovered. He has topped 100 tackles in three different seasons. Additionally, he has four career postseason interceptions.
Bethea started all four playoff games in 2006, when the Colts won Super Bowl XLI. He opened three playoff games this past season as the club won the AFC championship and reached Super Bowl XLIV. Bethea earned Pro Bowl honors following the 2007 and ’09 seasons.
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