Colts CB Kenny Moore II on impending free agency: ‘I obviously want to be here

this could be the end.

kenny moore ii put together a career year in 2023, but it may not be enough for him to remain with the indianapolis colts. the 28-year-old isn’t getting any younger, while the colts are largely amid a youth movement. those factors make moore’s impending free agency and tenure with the colts, who are projected to have $66.4 million in cap space this offseason, according to spotrac, a bit murky.

“i obviously want to be here. that’s been obvious throughout my entire career,” said moore, who could experience free agency for the first time in his seven-year nfl career. “how much i put into my craft, how much i put into my teammates, nothing has been a façade with (no.) 23. so, whenever i’m throwing up the hearts, whenever i’m throwing up my hands or all of the good plays — i’m doing that for this city.”

moore has been down this road before, just last year, when it seemed like a real possibility his time in indianapolis could be over.

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after becoming a pro bowler in 2021, he staged a failed “hold-in” for a contract extension during training camp that was a precursor for the forgettable season that lay ahead in 2022. in a new scheme under then-new defensive coordinator gus bradley, moore’s production dropped. he missed the final five games of the year due to an ankle injury, and his team nosedived to land the no. 4 pick.

all of it left indianapolis with big decisions to make, including one about moore’s future. the trade calls were real, colts general manager chris ballard would later acknowledge.

“i think anything was possible as far as me being on the team or not on the team,” moore said last year. “or on somebody else’s team.”

the colts ultimately held on to moore, allowing him to finish out the final year of the four-year, $33 million contract extension he signed in 2019 that called for an $8.4 million cap hit in 2023. moore rewarded the colts with one of the best seasons of his career, falling four points short of earning second-team all-pro honors. he totaled a career-high eight tackles for loss and three interceptions, highlighted by a pair of pick-sixes in a week 9 victory at carolina.

Honestly, I had a lot to prove this year,” Moore said after the season. “I had lot to prove not only to everybody around me, not only to people who said I couldn’t play anymore, but to myself. I knew what I had instilled in me, and I just wanted to show that.”

Aside from his on-field production, Moore embraced more of a leadership role in an inexperienced and depleted cornerback room. The Colts could no longer turn to Stephon Gilmore, a former Super Bowl champ and Defensive Player of the Year, for his guidance. He was traded to Dallas after just one year in Indianapolis, leaving Moore to fill that leadership void largely by himself. Moore entered 2023 having started more games than every other cornerback on the Colts’ roster combined


When the typically reserved Moore spoke, his younger teammates listened. Not only because of his status within the franchise, but the path he took to get there. Save for a few months in New England after signing there as an undrafted free agent out of Division II Valdosta State in 2017, Indianapolis is the only NFL home Moore has ever known. After being waived by the Patriots on Sept. 2, 2017, the Colts claimed him off waivers one day later. From there, Moore climbed through the ranks to become one of the best slot defenders in the league.

“I think I’m still growing honestly,” Moore said. “I got a long way to go. The moment I walked in this locker room I was a special teams player — timid, frightened and a little scared to express myself. Honestly, just being here now and everything that I’ve endured, I like how far I’ve come. I think it’s all been worth it. My bad days, my good days, it’s all been worth it for the better.”

Moore wore No. 42 during practice when he initially joined the Colts, not knowing that seven years later, a huge poster of him wearing his now signature No. 23 jersey would be plastered on the side of Lucas Oil Stadium.

Colts linebacker Zaire Franklin, a 2018 seventh-round pick by the Colts who’s now broken the franchise’s single-season tackle record in back-to-back years, shares a similar ascension. He wore No. 97 in his first few practices before moving his way up the depth chart, switching to No. 44 and making history. Franklin has drawn inspiration from Moore over the years, and from his perspective, it’s a no-brainer to bring him back.

“I couldn’t put any more flowers on Kenny’s desk if I wanted to,” Franklin said. “Just his leadership, for me, (he’s) a guy that I follow in this building. To be honest, I tell him all of the time: I don’t know how it works without him. Just the role that he played in that DB room with all of those young DBs, he was the guiding light for those guys, main communicator and playmaker. … He means a ton to me. He means a ton to that locker room, too.”

Franklin added that he doesn’t even “want to know what that feels like” to play without Moore as Indianapolis looks to bolster its defense. The Colts ranked 28th in the league in scoring defense for the second straight year, allowing 24.4 points per game in 2023. They also ranked 12th in the NFL by giving up 85 explosive pass plays (receptions of at least 16 yards), including five in their de facto playoff game in Week 18 against the Texans. Those big plays helped Houston punch its ticket to the postseason and clinch the AFC South title, while leaving 9-8 Indianapolis one win short of doing the same

Moore wants to continue being a part of the Colts’ resurgence, helping to usher in the new era being established under head coach Shane Steichen and soon-to-be second-year QB Anthony Richardson. Ballard said he thought Moore played “really good football” for the Colts in 2023. Moore believes he has a lot more left in the tank.

“It’s everything I wanted to be, being a professional athlete,” Moore said of playing for the Colts. “I’m very fulfilled with everything that I’ve been able to accomplish, not only as a player, but as a person here.

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