Michael Pittman Jr. would serve as a great option for the receiver-needy New England Patriots should he reach the open market this offseason. But it doesn’t seem Pittman will get the opportunity to dip his toe into free agency.

The Indianapolis Colts won’t let the 2020 second-round receiver get that far.

Colts general manager Chris Ballard told reporters Wednesday that Pittman will remain with the Colts in 2024. Pittman concluded his rookie contract in Indianapolis, but can be retained by the franchise tag or by re-signing a long-term deal.

“We’ll work hard to get a deal done,” Ballard told reporters at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, per NFL.com. “It’s (franchise tag) a tool we have. I’m not going to say we’re not going to use it, but I’m not going to say we are.

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“Hopefully, we can come to an agreement and find some compromise on a deal.”

The franchise tag window closes March 5. If the Colts use the franchise tag on Pittman, they still would have until mid-July to agree to a multi-year deal. At the very least it would give them more time to come to a long-term agreement. If no agreement, Pittman would play the 2024 campaign on the $21 million franchise tag.

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Pittman is coming off a 2023 season in which he set career highs in catches (109) and yards (1,152). He had two 1,000-yard seasons in his first four years.

Patriots de facto general manager Eliot Wolf told reporters he would like to “weaponize the offense” this offseason. Just don’t count on Pittman being the weapon that lands in New England.

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Featured image via Nathan Ray Seebeck/USA TODAY Sports Images