It was only a matter of time, but just a few weeks after the 49ers made Fred Warner the highest paid ILB in the league, the Colts have given star linebacker Darius Leonard a massive, five-year contract extension, per NFL’s Ian Rapoport.
Leonard, who now becomes the highest paid ILB in the NFL, will get $20 million per year over the first three years, and $52.5 million in guaranteed money, according to Rapoport.
The #Colts & All-Pro LB Darius Leonard agree to terms on a blockbuster 5-year, $99.25M contract extension to make him the highest paid ILB, sources say. He gets $20M per year over the 1st 3 years. The deal, done by @MalkiKawa & Ethan Lock, includes $52.5M guaranteed.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 8, 2021
The Colts have now locked up two cornerstone players over the last month or so in Leonard and right tackle Braden Smith. Many would argue that Leonard has perhaps been the best linebacker in the entire NFL since entering the league back in 2018.
It didn’t take long for the athletic playmaker to make his presence known, either, as in just his second career start, Leonard had 19 total tackles (15 solo), a sack and a forced fumble. Things only progressed from there, as the former second-round pick would go on to win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year after leading the entire league in total tackles with 163 (111 solo) and garnering 7 sacks, which was second in the entire league among rookie linebackers.
Leonard would go on to add to his already impressive resume, as he was named an All-Pro in each of his first three seasons, two of which have been first-team selections. The star linebacker has always had a nose for the ball and has consistently made key, game-changing plays for the Colts over the last three seasons.
In total. Leonard has 218 solo tackles, 15 sacks and 7 interceptions in just three seasons with the Colts. Not too bad for the ‘worst pick in the second round of the 2018 draft.’ GM Chris Ballard hit a home run in selecting Leonard, and now the team has him under contract for the next five years.
Many expect Leonard to continue his greatness for quite some time. To the Colts and their thousands of fans, the star linebacker is going to be worth every single penny.