June 14, 2024
Colts' Michael Pittman Jr. 'Not Motivated by Money', Rather Respect


The wide receiver market has continued to explode in the NFL throughout the offseason.

Players like Justin Jefferson (four years, $140 million), A.J. Brown (three years, $96 million), and Amon-Ra St. Brown (four years, $120 million) have earned mega-deals worth over $30 million per year. Others like CeeDee Lamb, Ja’Marr Chase, and Brandon Aiyuk are also expected to cash in with new contracts paying them in the same ballpark.

A wide receiver for the Indianapolis Colts also secured a nice payday this offseason. Michael Pittman Jr. agreed to a three-year, $70 million extension with $46 million guaranteed. The Colts used the franchise tag on Pittman to keep him from hitting the open market, allowing them to negotiate with their WR1 without any outside competition.

“I think it’s great because we’re getting to a point where — you don’t even have to be the guy and you’re going to get a lot of money,” Pittman explained about the wide receiver market. “So like, you could be receiver No. 2 and get 20 (million dollars) a year. So, that’s where it’s heading. And then the top-tier, I mean you just saw JJ (Justin Jefferson) get 35.”

Pittman signed his extension with the Colts on March 11, before any of the mega-deals mentioned previously had been signed. There was a growing expectation that the market would continue to climb throughout the spring. Although Pittman felt this would be the case, it did not impact his wanting to get a deal done.

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. (11) talks with press Wednesday, June 5, 2024, ahead of practice at the Colts Practice Facility in Indianapolis.

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. (11) talks with press Wednesday, June 5, 2024, ahead of practice at the Colts Practice Facility in Indianapolis. / Grace Hollars/IndyStar / USA TODAY

“I kind of expected it to keep going because there was a long line of guys that still had to sign,” Pittman remarked. “For me, I just got to a place where I was comfortable. I felt like the structure was good and we felt like it was a good time to just do the deal.”

But is there any buyer’s remorse? When Pittman signed his deal, he slotted in as the eighth-highest-paid wide receiver in the league in terms of average annual value ($23.3 million). As things stand now, Pittman has already dropped to 12th in that regard and could find himself outside the top 15 before the 2024 regular season kicks off.

When asked about it again, Pittman had the same answer. Seeing others get paid does not phase him.

“I don’t look at other guys and kick myself,” Pittman revealed. “I don’t really care that much because like I said, I signed it, and even if guys are getting more, I think what I’m getting is a decent amount of money.”

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To be clear, $70 million is a lot of money. It is life-changing money for anyone, including Pittman. But some in his situation may feel they should have waited for a better deal. Players are only in the NFL for so long, and they owe it to themselves to maximize their earning potential during the small window of opportunity.

However, Pittman has an entirely different perspective towards his new deal. It might bother him if money was the only thing he was chasing in this league. But, as many who have followed the Colts and Pittman’s career, that is not how he is wired.

“I’m trying to figure out a way to say this to not be ungrateful because obviously, I’m grateful for everything that I have, but I’m not motivated by money,” Pittman said. “That doesn’t make me feel like I made it or like I got it. I actually think that is like the death of guys’ careers when they get comfortable with stuff like that. So I mean, obviously, it’s very nice to have, but it’s not what motivates me when it comes to football.”

Pittman’s contract is signed and behind him. His focus is not on the money he potentially missed out on but on the upcoming season. Pittman did not participate in the Colts’ mandatory minicamp this week as a precaution after he banged knees with cornerback Jaylon Jones last week. The knee is not a cause for concern, however, as Pittman is already feeling much better.

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. (11) catches the game-winning touchdown in overtime against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn. The final score was 31-28.

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. (11) catches the game-winning touchdown in overtime against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn. The final score was 31-28. / Robert Scheer/IndyStar / USA TODAY

“I’m out here getting ready. I’m just not out there practicing, but I’m still going through my weightlifting and stretching and all that stuff,” Pittman elaborated. “It was just a bang-bang play. I wasn’t really thinking much except like it kind of hurt a little bit in that moment, but other than that I was fine.”

As he does every season, Pittman is beginning to think of the individual goals he would like to accomplish this season. The wide receiver wants to continue building off a year in 2023 that saw him rack up 109 catches for 1,152 yards and four touchdowns. With the return of Anthony Richardson at quarterback and a year under his belt in Shane Steichen’s offense, Pittman could realistically set career highs in all major categories.

“I haven’t drawn them up yet because it’s something I’m very intentional with,” Pittman commented. “I kind of build this pyramid thing, but just off the top of my head for my individual goals, it always starts Super Bowl, All-Pro, Pro Bowl, and then it kind of trickles down from there.”

Pittman has yet to be selected to a Pro Bowl or All-Pro team in his four-year career. What Pittman has done is improve every season, continuing to solidify himself as one of the better wide receivers in the game. If Pittman continues on this trajectory, he will ultimately achieve what actually motivates him in the game of football.

“Respect really – just being respected at the top of my position.”

Another career year from Pittman, and it will be tough for anyone to deny he deserves to be considered one of the best at his position.

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