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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Chris Ballard’s desire to finalize extensions for deserving players has impacted special teams.

Adam Vinatieri.

Rigoberto Sanchez.

Now Luke Rhodes.

The key components in the Indianapolis Colts’ kicking game have been rewarded with new deals this offseason, and four-year extensions for Sanchez and Rhodes have them locked up through the 2023 season.

Rhodes is the latest to receive a new deal. The linebacker-turned-longsnapper received a four-year extension Tuesday that involves $4.85 million in new money and includes $1.25 million in guarantees. He’s suddenly the NFL’s highest-paid longsnapper.

Last week, the Colts signed Sanchez to a four-year extension worth $11.6 million that included $5 million in guarantees and made him the league’s seventh highest-paid player at his position.

Consider Ballard’s special teams commitment a recognition of youth and experience. Sanchez is 24 and heading into this third season while Rhodes, 26, also is heading into year 3.

And then there’s Vinatieri. He’s heading into his 24th season, is the NFL’s oldest active player and just the fourth player in league history to play at age 46.

He signed a one-year extension in January worth approximately $3.825 million.

Incredibly, the Colts have maintained continuity at the three core special teams positions since their relocation to Indy in 1984. They’ve primarily utilized five placekickers and punters since ’84, with a few injury-required, in-season fill-ins. Since 1994, the Colts have relied on just four longsnappers.

A breakdown:

  • Placekickers: Raul Allegre (1984-85), Dean Biasucci (1985-94, one Pro Bowl selection), Cary Blanchard (1995-97, one Pro Bowl), Mike Vanderjagt (1998-2005, one Pro Bowl), Adam Vinatieri (2006-present, one Pro Bowl).
  • Punters: Rohn Stark (1984-94, four Pro Bowl selections), Chris Gardocki (1995-98, one Pro Bowl), Hunter Smith (1999-2008), Pat McAfee (2009-16, two Pro Bowls), Rigoberto Sanchez (2017-present).
  • Longsnappers (since 1994): Bradford Banta (1994-99), Justin Snow (2000-11), Matt Overton (2012-16, one Pro Bowl), Luke Rhodes (2017-present).

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51

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