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Colts keep defensive core together in committing to Zaire Franklin, Tyquan Lewis, Kenny Moore II and Grover Stewart

Colts keep defensive core together in committing to Zaire Franklin, Tyquan Lewis, Kenny Moore II and Grover Stewart


Kenny Moore II made his NFL debut in Week 1 of the 2017 season. Seven days later, Grover Stewart played his first game as a pro. A year later, Zaire Franklin arrived in Indianapolis. 

The odds were stacked against all three. Moore, an undrafted free agent, was claimed off waivers from the New England Patriots on roster cut-down day. Stewart was a fourth-round pick of the Colts from Albany State, an off-the-radar HBCU in Georgia. Franklin didn’t get an invite to the NFL Combine or Senior Bowl and was the 235th player selected in the 2018 draft. 

These three players beat the long odds to stick in the NFL with the Colts. They beat longer odds to earn second contracts. And they beat even longer odds to earn third contracts, which they all signed on Wednesday. 

Another player who beat the odds to earn a contract extension this week is defensive end Tyquan Lewis. He was a high draft pick – a second-rounder in 2018 – but sustained patellar injuries, one to each leg, nearly one year apart in 2021 and 2022. Both times, the Colts brought him back. In 2023, Lewis played a full 17-game season and was disruptive as a versatile rotational defensive lineman, recording 44 total pressures – third-most on the team. 

“From my story to Ty Lew, to Grove and so on and so forth,” Franklin said, mentioning Moore as well, “it’s just a message ringing out throughout our organization that they take care of the guys that perform here as long as you contribute to winning.”

Both Lewis and Moore explained how this core of players stayed together not just because of on-field production, but because of the kind of people the Colts work to build around as an organization. 

“The guys we re-signed and extended – those are some of the best young men some of us will ever meet in our lives,” Lewis said. “I can’t really explain how grateful I am for them as teammates. I think all of us have been teammates for six years almost – six or seven…

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