Colts will pick up fifth-year option for C Ryan Kelly

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 23: Ryan Kelly #78 of the Indianapolis Colts congratulates teammate Frank Gore #23 on scoring a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans during the first half at Nissan Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Shortly after injecting fresh talent into the Indianapolis Colts roster through this year’s NFL Draft, Chris Ballard offered some news on a former draft pick.

As expected, he announced the team plans on picking up the fifth-year option on center Ryan Kelly, the 18th overall selection in the 2016 draft. Under league guidelines, that translates into Kelly receiving a base salary of roughly $10 million for 2020.

Kelly’s rookie deal was a four-year, $10.45 million contract. All first-round contracts include a fifth-year option at the team’s discretion, and the Colts must officially execute the option by Friday.

In three seasons, Kelly has started 35 of a possible 48 regular-season games. He missed nine games in 2017 with a broken foot and concussion, and four games last season with a knee issue.

Andrew Luck always has been bullish on his center.

“Ryan Kelly is probably the most underrated offensive lineman in the NFL,’’ he said last season.

Former offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo wholeheartedly agreed.

“I’ve coached Pro Bowl centers,’’ he said. “I’ve been around Nick Mangold, (Mike) Pouncey. I’ve had some really good athletic ones, strong ones, smart ones.

“He’s the most complete center I’ve ever coached. I have no doubt he is the best center in the National Football League.’’

Kelly was the anchor of a Colts’ offensive line that emerged as one of the NFL’s best in 2018. It allowed a league-low 18 sacks and enjoyed a five-game stretch during which it didn’t yield a sack, tied for the third-longest streak since 1982.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.

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