Saying, “I’m just blessed to have the opportunity,” defensive tackle DeForest Buckner today signed a five-year contract with the Indianapolis Colts that will pay him an average of $21 million per season.
“I’m excited for the opportunity the Colts are giving me,” Buckner said in a conference call from California, where he was visiting relatives.
The Waianae native and Punahou School graduate was traded to the Colts this week by the San Francisco 49ers, for whom he had been a four-year starter. The 49ers, desperate for salary cap space, get the Colts’ first-round draft pick, No. 13 overall in next month’s NFL Draft.
The new contract, which essentially takes on the fifth-year option the 49ers had held, is guaranteed for $39.3 million and could rise to $44.3 million.
With it Buckner, who celebrated his 26th birthday Tuesday, becomes the second-highest paid defensive tackle in NFL history behind the Rams’ Aaron Donald, who receives $22.5 million annually.
Buckner has had 19.5 sacks over the past two seasons and 34 quarterback hits.
With his trade and the arrival of free agent quarterback Philip Rivers, Buckner said the Colts have, “Kinda of a win-now mentality. I’m just excited moving forward. It is a real special team with a lot of young talent.”