INDIANAPOLIS — The Colts on Tuesday put their franchise tag on wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., who set career highs with 109 receptions for 1,152 yards this past season.

The Colts and Pittman’s representatives have been in talks over a long-term extension in recent days and were trying to reach an agreement to tag players before Tuesday’s deadline, but it came and went without a new contract.

“We love everything about him, and we want him to be a Colt,” coach Shane Steichen said Tuesday morning.

A franchise tag of $21.8 million for the wide receiver through the 2024 season would allow both sides to continue working on a long-term deal. The tag will severely limit Pittman’s ability to sign himself as a free agent when the 2024 NFL season begins next week.

It’s the first time the Colts have used the franchise tag on punter Pat McAfee since 2013.

Non-exclusive franchise tags allow players to enter into negotiations with other teams, but the player’s original team reserves the right to match any rival offer, or if a player joins a new team, is entitled to two first-round picks.

Pittman, who was the starting quarterback in each of his four seasons in Indianapolis, is one of the most prolific receivers in Colts history, joining only five others — Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, TI Hilton, Dallas Clark and Bill Brooks — to catch more passes than Pittman’s 336.

He was by far the Colts’ top target last season at 28.2%, which ranked 11th in the NFL. His 208 receptions since 2022 also rank fifth in the NFL over that span.

Pittman, who turned 27 in October, missed Week 16 after being placed in the concussion protocol after being hit by Pittsburgh Steelers safety Damonta Causey in Week 15 and then was suspended for the final three games of the season. Pittman was released from the protocol the following Friday, but returned to the protocol a day later after returning to Atlanta for a game against the Falcons.

At 6-foot-4 and 223 pounds, Pittman provides a big target for the quarterback and is willing and sometimes destructive in the run game. 2023 first-round pick Anthony Richardson spoke at length about the impending return to the Colts lineup and the impact the young quarterback’s presence could have on the team’s passing game.