Finally! One down. Better late than never, right?
Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard was tasked with a lot this offseason, from finding a new quarterback, to overhauling specific parts of the defense, to pressing contract issues with guys approaching the final year of their deals.
As for the latter aspect of the to-do list, the first domino has fallen. The Colts have signed right tackle Braden Smith to a contract extension despite everyone being under the assumption star linebacker Darius Leonard would be first after all the leaks from last week.
Either way, Smith and Leonard took priority since they’re entering contract years and have been among the best at their positions since entering the NFL.
The Colts gave Braden Smith a lucrative four-year contract extension.
The team announced the news but didn’t reveal any details of the contract. Minutes later, however, in came NFL insider Ian Rapoport, who did just that for us.
Smith agreed to a four-year, $70 million extension that can be worth up to $72.4 million. Of that amount, $42 million is guaranteed.
That’s $17.5 million per season, slotting him right behind Saints RT Ryan Ramczyk ($19 million per) and Eagles RT Lane Johnson ($18 million).
Now the Colts just need to take care of Quenton Nelson to ensure their offensive line remains together for years to come.
However, this good news coincided with some more troubling updates on the COVID-19 front. Head coach Frank Reich isn’t at training camp after testing positive, though he’s vaccinated and asymptomatic.
Shortly before the Smith news, though, the Colts announced key defensive players Xavier Rhodes, TJ Carrie and Al-Quadin Muhammad were placed on the COVID list and will miss the start of camp.
There’s been more hopeful news of Colts players getting vaccinated (the roster was under 50% not too long ago and the team recently said they’ve eclipsed 60% ahead of training camp), but the recommended threshold is 85%. Until that number is reached, Indy will be dealing with competitive disadvantages due to the NFL’s new rules.
Not what you want to hear by any means, since it’d be great if this squad can have a full training camp together after the obstacles and struggles everyone experienced last year, but at least one of the team’s most important players in Smith will be here for another five seasons.