Colts: DeForest Buckner trade with 49ers was a lot more complicated than you’d think
New details reveal just how complicated the Colts’ trade with San Francisco for DeForest Buckner this offseason was.
The Indianapolis Colts’ defense has oozed potential for the last couple of years, and the group is finally realizing it this season, ranking third in the NFL in points allowed per game (20.0) and first in total yards allowed per game (290.0).
While they had some cornerstone pieces — like Darius Leonard and Justin Houston — already in place, it goes without saying that offseason additions and excellent draft picks have made a huge difference.
We don’t mean to pit these players against one another, but defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, who was acquired via trade from the San Francisco 49ers and subsequently signed to an $84 million extension back in March, has evidently made the biggest impact.
Looking back at Buckner’s torrid first half of the season, what if we told you that the blockbuster almost didn’t come to be? In his latest piece for The Athletic, Zak Keefer detailed how Colts general manager Chris Ballard and the 49ers did their best to keep the terms of the deal a secret to ensure that it didn’t fall apart.
Essentially, Buckner had become aware of San Francisco’s intentions to let him test free agency just one month after their Super Bowl defeat. The organization had picked up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract, but had other extensions to prioritize and not enough salary cap space to give him the deal he craved and deserved.
When Ballard caught wind of this, he proposed a trade — the No. 13 overall pick in the 2020 Draft — and the 49ers were on board seemingly without hesitation. However, the NFL offseason hadn’t officially started at that point, so they had to keep the agreement under wraps. Had word got out, there’s no telling if San Fran would’ve gotten cold feet and shopped for a potential better offer…which would only have further risked Buckner’s departure in free agency.
The 49ers and GM John Lynch had one week (!) to sit on the trade before it became official, but when all was said and done, they kept quiet and the deal was processed: Indianapolis had finally landed a world-beating interior defensive lineman.
Buckner revealed that he never expected the 49ers to trade him, but he’s settled in just fine with the Colts and made it clear earlier in the season that this is where he’s supposed to be. We would agree with that, as the Oregon product has racked up 34 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 13 QB hits and one forced fumble, earning a stellar 86.3 grade from Pro Football Focus in the process through eight games.
Did we ever thank Ballard for making this deal? If not, then THANK YOU, because Buckner appears to be one of the finishing touches of this now-championship-caliber defense.