June signs qualifying offer with Colts

4/22/2006 - NFL Cato June Indianapolis Colts + more

Three-year veteran Cato June, the former college safety who became a Pro Bowl linebacker in 2005, has signed his one-year qualifying offer with the Indianapolis Colts. The deal is worth $1.573 million.

A restricted free agent, June received the middle-level qualifying offer from the Colts in March. That all but precluded his departure in free agency. Any team signing June to an offer sheet would have owed Indianapolis a first-round draft choice as compensation. The period for teams to sign restricted free agents to offer sheets ended on Friday night.

It will be interesting to see if the Colts now pursue a long-term deal with June, who could be eligible for unrestricted free agency next spring unless he signs an extension.

The Colts have a history of not overpaying at the linebacker position. In recent years, Indianapolis has allowed three starting linebackers -- Mike Peterson (2002), Marcus Washington (2004) and David Thornton (2005) -- to depart as unrestricted free agents. The Colts' personnel department, in each case, was able to locate suitable replacements.

June, 26, is a self-made player. He was a sixth-round choice in 2003 who overcame not only his low-round status but also a change of positions, and turned himself into a Pro Bowl performer. The former University of Michigan standout played primarily on special teams as a rookie in 2003, and then moved into the starting lineup in 2004, after Washington's departure.

He has started all 32 games the last two seasons and totaled 237 tackles, seven interceptions, eight passes defensed and two fumble recoveries. June is an excellent coverage defender and last season he led the team in interceptions, with five, returning two of them for touchdowns.

In addition to June, the Colts also re-signed three-year veteran wide receiver Aaron Moorehead to his one-year restricted free agent qualifying offer of $721,600. Moorehead, 25, has played in 16 games and has 15 receptions for 183 yards.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.