INDIANAPOLIS — It's been a long climb to NFL security for Pierre Desir.
So, even though the 28-year-old cornerback preferred not to leave the city he considers home, he knew he needed to take a genuine look at what the free-agent market held for him.
With a few caveats for his agent, of course.
“I think you have to always be prepared for every outcome, but I always spoke to my agent and let him know that I wanted to come back to Indy,” Desir said Thursday after the Colts officially announced a three-year agreement to retain his services. “That was my main focus. I know he was working as hard as he could to try and get a deal done, and now we are here. I am just very happy and just blessed for the opportunity to be back in Indy.”
The Dolphins, 49ers and Jets were among the teams that reportedly inquired about Desir, who enjoyed a breakout 2018 season that included his second career interception, eight pass break ups and two forced fumbles.
After four seasons spent finding his way as a pro, Desir made a career-high 12 starts and earned the trust of the coaching staff to the point he was given the primary responsibility to defend Houston star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in two critical road games.
Hopkins had four catches for 36 yards and one touchdown during Indianapolis' 24-21 victory on Dec. 9 that kept its late-season playoff push alive. Then he was held to five catches for 37 yards in a 21-7 loss in the wild-card playoff round.
Those were by far the All-Pro's two worst games in a season that saw him top the 100-yard mark seven times and finish with 115 catches for 1,572 yards and 11 scores.
Desir's success established him as a rising defensive back and gave him a chance to cash in on the open market. But he wasn't looking to break the bank.
He only wanted a fair deal, and he preferred for it to come from the Colts.
General manager Chris Ballard delivered a three-year offer worth up to $25 million on Wednesday, and the deal was completed shortly before the official start of the league year at 4 p.m.
Desir also re-signed with Indianapolis last year, earning a one-year, $1.75 million contract that set him up for this year's payday. It continues a relationship he's felt has blossomed since the Colts claimed him off waivers from Seattle in 2017.
“They brought me in as a family and embraced me as such,” Desir said. “That is something that I always took to heart. I fought for everyone every single day, just working hard and practicing hard. This is where I called home, and this is definitely somewhere that I wanted to return. I’m just thankful that I’m able to come back.”
Indianapolis is, too.
Ballard has made adding depth in the defensive secondary a priority for this offseason. The loss of Desir would have complicated that process.
Instead, he'll be a significant part of a young cornerback group that also includes Kenny Moore II — who is also coming off a breakout season — and rapidly improving Quincy Wilson, who is showing more and more of the talent that made him a second-round pick in 2017.
Desir continued to climb despite playing in two different defensive schemes.
He was asked to play primarily with his back to the quarterback in former head coach Chuck Pagano's 3-4 scheme in 2017. Last year, he felt like an even better fit in new defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus' Tampa 2-based 4-3 zones.
“This scheme allows everyone just to play fast and react,” Desir said. “We pride ourselves on hustling to the ball and attacking the ball. For a defensive back, when you’re able to not think as much and just be able to react to the play and react to what you see, it makes your job a lot easier. When you’ve got a great group of guys up front that are able to go after the quarterback, it makes it even that much easier.”