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Friday, June 11, 2010
Colts ready for Bethea-Sanders pairing

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

The settling force of the Indianapolis Colts' secondary is set to be around for another four years. Adam Schefter reports safety Antoine Bethea, who’s been a restricted free agent with an unsigned tender, has agreed to a new contract.

Bethea
His four-year deal is worth $27 million and will pay Bethea about $18 million over the next two seasons.

The Colts can now likely turn their attention to Peyton Manning, who owner Jim Irsay said is in line for a deal that will make him the highest-paid player in the league. Team president Bill Polian recently said there is no timetable on that and that negotiations could take place during or even after the final year of Manning’s current contract.

Bethea has been a key piece of the Colts' defense even as Bob Sanders has been an infrequent presence because of injuries. With Sanders healed up, the two should start side-by-side when the Colts play at Houston on opening day.

I asked Texans receiver Andre Johnson about Bethea on Thursday.

“I like Antoine,” Johnson said. “I’ve had a chance to actually hang out with him a few times. I met him through Reggie [Wayne]. You look at him on the field, he’s not a big guy. But you know he plays big. He makes a lot of big plays for them.

“He’s always around the ball, he always finds a way to come through for them when a play needs to be made on defense. Imagine him and Bob Sanders out there at the same time; that would be pretty lethal.”