The story of the Indianapolis Colts’ offseason — other than trading for Carson Wentz, of course — has revolved around contract extensions for their homegrown talents.
While several players are projected to come off the books after this upcoming season, Darius Leonard and Braden Smith are first in line for new deals, and understandably so, given that they are two of the top players at their respective positions.
With training camp getting started next week, it would behoove the Colts to have these deals signed before then. That isn’t to say an agreement couldn’t be reached after. It would just be better to not have such a huge burden hanging over their heads.
Well, it’s looking like fans in Indianapolis will have to wait a little longer, as owner Jim Irsay told reporters on Thursday that Indy is still pushing to get these deals done.
The longtime owner didn’t provide a timetable as to when the Colts would like these contracts signed, but sometime between now and Week 1 seems like the obvious goal.
Colts: Jim Irsay spoke on Darius Leonard’s and Braden Smith’s contract extensions.
"“We’re working on it, and I think any time you deal with extensions — I’ve been dealing with them for decades — it takes two to tango, and there’s a compromising aspect,” Irsay said. “You sign early and get protection against injury, that guarantee, that sort of peace of mind, and the team gets consideration of doing it early.”"
The Colts’ entire offseason has centered on the extensions for Leonard, Smith, and, eventually, Quenton Nelson. Even general manger Chris Ballard has openly admitted to not spending big in free agency because he needed to preserve cap space for those deals.
So, if you’re wondering if Indy is worried, don’t be. The franchise has a long history of agreeing to second contracts with players and giving cornerstone pieces top-of-the-market money, so Irsay is confident these extensions will get done despite camp being right around the corner.
"“If an agent comes in and is asking too much, it doesn’t work. You just say, ‘Well, we’ll wait because we have the (franchise) tag.”“We always give great deals to our players. It’s been that way going back 20 years. Extensions we’ve signed, and the players we’ve extended into second contracts is a long list, and they’ve always been done fairly, and tried to look at it from their point of view.”"
These comments have to encourage fans, no? After all, Irsay and Ballard should have a solid baseline in negotiations after the recent extensions that have been finalized.
In regard to Leonard, 49ers star Fred Warner signed for $95 million (!) over five years, indicating the Colts standout (since he’s worth more) should ink more annually. The latest reports back that up, as Leonard is in line to sign a four-year deal worth more than $19 mil per year.
As for Smith, he looks likely to sign something north of $18 million per year. After all, Ryan Ramczyk inked a five-year, $96 million extension with the Saints. Just a few weeks later, Taylor Moton and the Panthers agreed to terms on a four-year, $72 million contract.
Keep the faith, Colts fans. While having these deals done before camp would be the best-case scenario, the Indianapolis faithful can take solace in the fact that Irsay and Co. should have this drawn-out process sorted out before the regular season rolls around.