Sources: Colts bringing back RB Marlon Mack on 1-year, $2 million contract

Jim Ayello
Indianapolis Star
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The Indianapolis Colts have re-signed running back Marlon Mack, according to multiple league sources familiar with the negotiations. 

The deal is for one year and $2 million. At first glance, it doesn't seem like much for Mack, a 1,000-yard rusher in 2019 who only recently turned 25. However, Mack was facing tough odds in the open market coming off a torn Achilles tendon suffered in Week 1 of the 2020 season. 

While he has been progressing nicely in his rehabilitation, and is expected, according to a source close to him familiar with his rehabilitation, to be ready for training camp, Achilles injuries are notoriously tough to bounce back from. Still, given his immense talent, Mack fielded interest from multiple teams on the open market, but ultimately decided to return to the team that drafted him (fourth round, 2017) to re-establish his value before hitting the market again next season. 

Mack, according to a league source, put a high value on familiarity. In other words, the Colts know what they can expect fromhim, and he knows they will put him in the best situations to succeed. 

For Mack, returning to the Colts on a one-year deal probably gives him the best chance to pick up a significant workload in 2021 and prove to the Colts, as well as teams across the league, he can be the same caliber of running back he was before his injury. 

Though the Colts have yet to address Anthony Castonzo's vacated left tackle position, it's probably still fair to say that Mack will once again run behind one of the league's best offensive lines, with a strong foursome in Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, Braden Smith and Mark Glowinski creating running lanes for him. 

For the Colts, it's a low-risk, low-cost roll of the dice in 2021. If Mack can return to the runner he was in 2019 (1,091 rushing yards, eight touchdowns), the Colts will have a lethal three-pronged attack atop their running back depth chart with Mack sharing carries with 2020 rookie sensation Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines. 

If Mack falters, they can simply hand over a bigger share of the workload to Taylor, Hines and Jordan Wilkins -- just as they did in 2020. 

A few months ago, Colts general manager Chris Ballard didn't see a reunion with Mack as likely. As much as he liked Mack as a person and respected how he attacked his rehabilitation — "I’ve watched him work his butt off all season to get back," Ballard said -- he wasn't sure the Colts were going to be able to bring him back. 

"Marlon Mack deserves a contract. Unequivocally, he deserves a good contract," Ballard said. "I don’t know if we’re going to be able to do that here. Saying that, I’m not going to say Marlon Mack’s not going to be back, because I think he’s really special as a player, I just see a backfield with Marlon, Jonathan and Nyheim, and Wilkins, being really special.

"I think Marlon Mack is a great player and deserves what he has coming to him, and he’s an even better teammate. Unselfish. Everything you want.” 

Maybe Mack didn't get the big contract Ballard and others thought he deserved, but in re-signing with the Colts, Mack now has a chance to prove why things should be different come 2022. 

Marlon Mack, running back, during Colts practice at Lucas Oil Stadium, Monday, Aug. 24, 2020.

Follow IndyStar Colts Insider Jim Ayello on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram: @jimayello.     

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