Colts are smart to wait for Quenton Nelson contract extension

ORCHARD PARK, NY - JANUARY 09: Quenton Nelson #56 of the Indianapolis Colts (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NY - JANUARY 09: Quenton Nelson #56 of the Indianapolis Colts (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images) /

Earlier this week, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay commented on the progress of contract extensions with some of the team’s star players.

He mentioned linebacker Darius Leonard and right tackle Braden Smith, both of whom will be free agents after 2021.

However, there was no mention of Quenton Nelson, the three-time All-Pro who is still under his rookie contract and will be through 2022 after the team picked up his fifth-year option. Though that led some fans to express confusion or concern, there’s no reason to be.

The Colts have all the time in the world, and it’s more important to secure Leonard and Smith at this current moment. Get those deals done before Week 1, know where you stand on the financial side of things, and bide your time with Nelson.

The Colts should be in no rush to give Quenton Nelson a record-setting contract.

Another reason for waiting? The salary cap is expected to balloon in 2022 and then again in 2023. Television deals will kick in and bring in even more cash to the league, and the losses due to COVID-19 will hopefully be far in the rearview.

You don’t have to tell us that the salary cap doesn’t really matter — we already know — but the Colts operate as if it’s gospel, so fans need to understand how the front office handles its business. There will not be any risky financial dealings as long as Chris Ballard is overseeing the transactions.

And it’s not like Nelson will be paid unfairly. He’s making nearly $8 million this year and will earn nearly $14 million in 2022. He’s likely going to reset the market when it comes to contracts for interior linemen when his time comes, too. The Colts know how essential he is to their system and fabric.

Also, have you ever thought about how hard it is to negotiate THREE immense contracts in the same offseason AFTER trading for Carson Wentz and his four-year, $128 million extension? Welcoming a new draft class, re-signing a number of integral veterans, and making a few adjustments elsewhere took precedent over working out a new contract for someone who won’t be a free agent for another two seasons.

Nelson isn’t one of those guys that a team is waiting on because the higher-ups feel he’s over-performed and are hoping he’ll come back down to earth so they can get a discount. He’s established himself as the best interior lineman in the entire NFL. There’s no need to add more stress to the offseason plate.

The former first-round pick is going to get top dollar whether it’s today, the middle of next season, during the 2022 offseason, or before Week 1 of the 2022 season. That’s just how it’s going to be.