Tick tock. Indianapolis Colts fans are still waiting on those contract extensions for the homegrown stars general manager Chris Ballard hinted at earlier this offseason.
Still, nothing. Guys like Quenton Nelson, Braden Smith and Darius Leonard need to be signed for the long haul. They’re very clearly the future of this organization.
While we hate to rank these players’ importance to the team since they all play integral roles, it’s probably best of Indy can get Leonard under a new deal relatively soon since plenty of other teams won’t hesitate to throw the bank at him if he were to reach free agency.
The Colts can buy their time with Nelson because he has a fifth-year option, but Leonard, who was taken in the second round, is entering his contract year in 2021. If you’ve been wondering what an extension for The Maniac might look like, Bleacher Report just gave us a pretty spot-on prediction.
Here’s what Kristopher Knox of B/R had to say about it:
"“It should surprise no one to see Leonard reset the off-ball linebacker market in 2022. Bobby Wagner leads the league among non-pass-rushing linebackers at $18 million annually. Leonard is similarly productive and roughly five years younger than Wagner—Leonard won’t turn 26 until July.“Because of Leonard’s combination of production, Pro Bowl status and youth, he’s likely to land a record-setting long-term contract wherever he lands.“Contract Prediction: five years, $95 million.”"
Fans can certainly see Leonard becoming the next highest-paid linebacker in the league, and he undoubtedly deserves it.
Across his first three NFL seasons, he’s already established himself as arguably tops in the NFL thanks to his two First-Team All-Pro honors and two Pro Bowl nods. Care to know the stats?
- 416 total tackles (26 for a loss)
- 15 sacks
- 17 QB hits
- 9 forced fumbles
- 4 fumble recoveries
- 7 interceptions
- 22 passes defended
Fans would agree that deserves $19 million per season, especially since Leonard’s impact goes well beyond those stats. He’s the unquestioned leader of the defense and voice of this Colts team.
Ballard isn’t known for handing out sizable contracts, but he paid DeForest Buckner, and we’ve already seen how that’s been worth every penny. Next up? The overlooked linebacker from Division I-AA he drafted in the second round back in 2018.