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Free agency roundup: Colts sign OL Austin Howard

Indianapolis general manager Chris Ballard isn't finished overhauling his offensive line after adding a pair of guards in the first two rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft.

The Colts signed veteran tackle Austin Howard, the team announced on Wednesday. It's a one-year, $3.75 million deal with another $500,000 in incentives, a source told NFL Network's Mike Garafolo.

Baltimore declined Howard's 2018 option after the 31-year-old started all 16 games at right tackle last season. Undrafted out of Northern Iowa in 2010, Howard has started 87 games for the Jets, Raiders and Ravens over the past six years.

Howard joins first-round pick Quenton Nelson, second-round pick Braden Smith and free-agent acquisition Matt Slauson as new blood on Indianapolis' blocking unit.

This is perhaps the most proactive approach the Colts have taken toward their beleaguered offensive line since Andrew Luck entered the league in 2012. After years of watching Luck being treated like a piñata in the pocket, Ballard saw Jacoby Brissett lead the NFL with 52 sacks absorbed last season.

It remains to be seen if veteran fliers such as Howard, Slauson and Jack Mewhort can hold off the youth brigade up front. At the very least, Ballard has assembled the deepest O-line of the Luck era.

Here are other free agency notes we're tracking Wednesday:

  1. Former New York Giants running back Orleans Darkwa had minor surgery to remove a plate he had inserted into his leg last offseason, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. The plate, Rapoport reported, limited his explosiveness and the removal of it has teams "encouraged."
  1. The San Francisco 49ers announced they signed veteran offensive lineman Mike Person.
  1. Former Falcons defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman, now a free agent returning from a suspension, worked out for the Patriots today, per the league's transaction wire. This is Hageman's first workout, per Rapoport.
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