Terms of the contract haven't been disclosed, but the deal is similar to the three-year, $23.4 million extension recently signed by Packers Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins, a source with knowledge of the situation told NFL.com's Steve Wyche.
Bethea, 25, signed the deal hours after the Colts wrapped up their final minicamp practice this spring and just days before Indy could have reduced the $2.521 million one-year tender that had been on the table since March.
"I think both sides handled it well," Bethea told the team's official website on Friday. Itâs a big burden off my shoulders. It feels real good. ...Iâm just thankful for the Colts organization and Mr. Irsay for both sides reaching an agreement and getting it done. Today is a great day for me and my family.â
The two-time Pro Bowler was a restricted free agent who has not participated in voluntary offseason workouts, in part to avoid injury while negotiations were quietly taking place.
Bethea was one of three players who skipped all of the team's minicamp workouts because of a contract dispute. Receiver Reggie Wayne and defensive end Robert Mathis have held out in hopes of renegotiating their contracts.
"You always want to be out there on the field with your comrades, with your friends, your teammates, and just hearing about (OTAs) was tough," Bethea said.
Bethea has steadily emerged as one of the Colts' top defenders and one of the best safeties in the NFL. The sixth-round pick out of Howard in 2006 was once overshadowed by Bob Sanders in the Colts' secondary, but Bethea clearly is now the anchor of the defensive backfield.
"Like Iâve said before, to draft me in the sixth round, and I wonât say take a chance on me, but giving me that opportunity to come in and prove myself, it was just something for me. They believed in me. They believed in the talent that they saw. For me to start and end here would be a great deal for me."
In four seasons, he has 351 tackles and 11 interceptions.
The Associated Press contributed to this report