ANDERSON — The free agency period began early for the Indianapolis Colts with Thursday’s addition of veteran linebacker D’Qwell Jackson.
A second-round pick in the 2006 draft, Jackson was released on Feb. 26 after eight years with the Cleveland Browns. He embarked on a brief free agent tour that included stops in Tennessee, Miami and Denver before choosing to sign with the Colts.
The deal is reportedly for four years at $22 million with $11 million guaranteed, big money for a player who will turn 31 years old shortly after the start of the 2014 season. But there were reports Jackson chose Indianapolis over richer deals elsewhere, and the linebacker did little to discredit them during a conference call with local media.
“I’ve made a great living so far so the decision for me was easy,” Jackson said. “It wasn’t a financial decision. It was a decision to be around a good group of guys, first and foremost, and a team that was willing to get to the Super Bowl, and that’s what it comes down to. It’s the passion of the game.”
The Colts freed up a little more salary cap room later in the day by releasing starting center Samson Satele, a move that nets the team about $4 million. Indianapolis also extended an exclusive rights free agent tender to outside linebacker Cam Johnson and restricted free agent tenders to cornerback Josh Gordy and offensive lineman Joe Reitz.
The latter two designations give the Colts the right to match any offer extended by another team after free agency begins Tuesday.
The moratorium for free agency signings applies only to players whose contracts are expiring. Those who are released with years remaining on their deals, like Jackson, are free to sign immediately.
And Indianapolis general manager Ryan Grigson wasted little time in getting Jackson on board.