Colts: Projecting a contract extension for Braden Smith

Colts RT Braden Smith (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Colts RT Braden Smith (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The Indianapolis Colts spent most of free agency spectating from the sidelines, which seemed bizarre given their fruitful salary cap situation.

However, it ultimately became clear they were readying extensions for homegrown stars like Darius Leonard, Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith.

While the latest buzz suggests Nelson might have to wait another year before he resets the market at the guard position, reports indicate the Colts are currently entrenched in negotiations with Leonard and Smith, both of whom deserve top-of-the-market money.

For the sake of argument let’s keep this conversation focused entirely on Smith (we’ve already covered Leonard), whose contributions up front have really gone under the radar over the last three years.

Luckily for Indianapolis, they have one of the most financially-adept general managers in the league in Chris Ballard, who should manage to find a loophole to keep all three of Smith, Nelson and Leonard around for the long haul.

With that in mind, what would a realistic extension for Smith look like?

Projecting a contract extension for Braden Smith.

In terms of annual average value, Lane Johnson ($18 million), Jack Conklin ($14 million), Taylor Moton ($13.75 million) and La’el Collins ($10 million) are the current highest-paid RTs. While it goes without saying Smith won’t earn nearly as much as Johnson, his new salary could fall anywhere between the $12-15 million range.

Unfortunately for Smith, the fact he hasn’t been named a Pro Bowler or an All-Pro yet could drive down the overall value of his new extension. At the same time, however, the 2018 second-round pick has established himself as one of the most complete right tackles in the league, meaning he’s just equally adept blocking in both passing and rushing situations.

That could prompt Smith to set a baseline of about $50 million in negotiations, which is understandable considering he’s coming off a year in which he conceded zero sacks and allowed just three penalties (!) over 937 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.

Let’s not forget that Smith was drafted as a guard before he made the switch to RT, so his versatility in terms of being able to play both positions and make a spot start at guard if one of Nelson or Mark Glowsinski suffered an injury should be considered by the Colts.

Taking all this into account, something like a four-year, $54 million deal should appease both parties. This contract would give Smith an annual average value of $13.5 million, which would slot him just behind Moton as the fourth-wealthiest right tackle in the NFL.

While Smith might personally feel that he deserves to reset the market at RT, he should understand Indy can’t afford to do so with extensions for Leonard and Nelson looming.

At the end of the day, $13.5 million per year is a deserved salary.