According to team owner Jim Irsay, the Indianapolis Colts remain in ongoing contract negotiations with 2020 NFL All-Pro Darius Leonard and ‘should’ve been’ 2020 Pro Bowler Braden Smith—hopeful that new lucrative multi-year deals will get done for both former 2018 2nd round picks (via The Athletic’s Zak Keefer):
July 22, 2021
The Colts are equipped with a projected $83.0M of available cap space in 2022, and a significant chunk figures to be eaten up by Leonard and Smith’s new mega-deals—both of whom are expected to be among the highest paid players at their respective positions (presumably the highest now in Leonard’s case).
Specifically, San Francisco 49ers All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner just landed a 5-year, $95 million contract extension—which means Leonard could very well flirt with the $100M threshold on his next super-deal (making around $20M annually).
Meanwhile, New Orleans Saints right tackle Ryan Ramczyk secured a 5-year, $96 million contract extension—with the Carolina Panthers Taylor Moton bringing in a 4-year, $72 million deal just a few weeks later. Smith is set up handsomely himself to earn around $18 million per season coming up.
Ideally, the Colts would at least get one of these deals done, so they could have the franchise tag (on backup) for the remaining unsigned standout—in the rare chance that a long-term deal cannot be successfully reached with the other imminent 2022 free agent.
For what it’s worth, it appears that all sides are ‘working’ toward achieving that goal—and hopefully, both deals get done soon.