ANDERSON — Pat McAfee couldn't imagine himself playing anywhere in the NFL other than Indianapolis.
For the next five years, at least, he won't have to.
The veteran punter agreed to a five-year deal with the Colts on Friday, less than 24 hours before other teams officially could begin making offers for his services. It was not a process McAfee was looking forward to, and he was even considering options outside of football if a deal could not be reached in Indy.
"I didn't want to hit free agency, not one bit," he said during a conference call from Los Angeles, where he was finishing up a week-long run on the NFL Network. "Now, granted, would I have retired? First of all, would my parents or the people around me let me retire? I don't know.
"But I consider myself a really loyal person. Every night when I go to lay my head down, I couldn't even imagine being in another city or playing for another team or representing another fan base. I didn't want to even think about it. I don't know what I would have done had free agency hit, but I was trying to make sure I was prepared for anything."
McAfee had been assured by his agent that negotiations were going well, but he seemed surprised last year's talks didn't result in a long-term deal. The punter played the 2013 season under the franchise tag and was scheduled to become a free agent Tuesday.
Instead, he'll return to work with the only NFL franchise he's ever known after agreeing to a deal reportedly worth $14 million through 2018. He cried when he was informed of the deal and later broke into a wide smile when he announced the news live on "NFL AM."