Defensive Players Getting Their Due

The defense is finally starting to get its due in Indianapolis, at least salary-wise. While most of the Colts' money is tied up on the offensive side of the ball, recent deals by the team show that there is plenty of interest in paying top dollar for key defensive performers as well.

Middle linebacker Gary Brackett, cornerback Kelvin Hayden and safety Antoine Bethea have all signed deals to stay with the team in the last two offseasons.

In March, the Colts re-signed Brackett to a five-year, $33 million contract. In the previous four years the franchise has also locked up Hayden (five years, $43 million), safety Bob Sanders (five years, $37.5 million) and defensive ends Dwight Freeney (six years, $73 million) and Robert Mathis (six years, $30 million).

Bethea is just the most recent recipient of a new deal, signing a four-year contract worth a reported $27 million. He likes the way that the Colts are paying the defense for what they've done in recent years.

Over the past five years, team owner Jim Irsay has paid his defenders accordingly (nearly $100 million in guaranteed signing and roster bonuses).

"We're worth the money," Bethea said recently. "We have a lot of good guys on that side of the ball."

That being said, Mathis — along with wide receiver Reggie Wayne — sat out the Colts' organized team activities and mandatory three-day mini-camp hoping for new deals. They may be waiting for awhile, however.

Team president Bill Polian has indicated no new deals are anticipated for either player, each of whom is under contract through 2011.

Polian anticipates both reporting for the start of camp.

"They have been stellar people who always do the right thing for themselves, for their teammates, for the Colts and I don't expect that to change," he said.

Failing to report for the start of training camp on Aug. 1 exposes each player to a $14,000-per-day fine. If a veteran under contract fails to report by Aug. 10, he has another year tacked onto his existing contract under rules in place during an uncapped year.

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