Colts: What’s taking Indy so long to sign Ryan Kelly to an extension?

Colts offensive lineman Ryan Kelly commented on his contract situation at training camp.

The Indianapolis Colts have arguably the best offensive line in the NFL, and center Ryan Kelly is a big reason why. The former first-round pick out of Alabama was a Pro Bowler in 2019 after battling knee, shoulder and foot injuries that limited him in 2017 and 2018.

Kelly’s been a starter since he stepped foot in the league, getting the nod in 51 games since the start of the 2016 season. He started 16 games that campaign and 16 again this past season, but enters a contract year in 2020.

So what gives? Kelly is clearly among the best at his position when he’s healthy and the Colts are about to have the most cap space in the league once this season concludes. Why hasn’t general manager Chris Ballard inked the former NCAA national champion to an extension?

Well, the good news is that Kelly (or at least his agent) has been keeping an ongoing dialogue with the team regarding contract talks. Here’s what the big man told reporters at training camp on Monday:

“I’ve talked to my agent a few times. I know he has been in contact with the Colts,” Kelly told Andrew Walker of Colts.com. “I’m just trying to focus my mind on doing training camp. I’m hopeful that it will happen soon, but I’m here for 14 hours a day so I pretty much have enough on my plate. I’m leaving my agent, Jimmy Sexton, up to that one. I know he is incredible at what he does so I hope he gets it worked out.”

At the end of last year Kelly was vocal about wanting to remain in Indianapolis for the long haul, so this should be a relatively easy task for Ballard, though he does have a lot of other situations to settle before handing out extensions.

Let’s not forget the Colts are (likely) going to need a franchise quarterback after this year when Philip Rivers and Jacoby Brissett come off the books. He also has to worry about TY Hilton, Justin Houston, Marlon Mack and Zach Pascal, all of whom are key figures for the team.

Then, when you factor in the fact Darius Leonard and Quenton Nelson will need to be paid big bucks eventually, the situation gets even messier.

The bottom line here is that the Colts’ success will hinge on the performance of its offensive line. Keeping this unit together will also help convince a star QB (if Indy decides to go the free agent route there) to sign with the team.

Though the decreasing salary cap is still a concern for many, extending Kelly should remain a top priority given his contributions and ability to hold down an important position.