Darius Leonard on Possible Colts Contract Extension: Hopefully They See Value I See

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVMay 18, 2021

Indianapolis Colts' Darius Leonard throws his gloves to fans following an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
AP Photo/AJ Mast

Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard says the onus is on the franchise to present him with a contract extension offer that properly values his talent.

"You know what you've done, and you know what you deserve. Hopefully, they see as much value as I see," Leonard told Zak Keefer of The Athletic.

Leonard is heading into the final season of his rookie contract and will make $3.4 million in 2021.

An All-Pro in each of his first three NFL seasons, Leonard has emerged as one of the best linebackers in football. He recorded 132 tackles, three sacks and three forced fumbles in 2020 on his way to first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors. Pro Football Focus gave Leonard a 72.6 overall grade, the worst mark of his career, primarily due to a downturn in production in coverage.

The Colts have considerable cap flexibility, so finances are not a major concern regarding retraining Leonard. However, it's likely he will want to reset the market for off-ball linebackers. 

No player at the position has topped Bobby Wagner's $18 million per season price. It would be a surprise if Leonard did not want to push that number to $20 million per season, perhaps in the $100 million range over five years.

Given his age and versatility, Leonard is in the exact right position to demand every possible dollar from the Colts he can get right now. It'll just be interesting to see if the Colts bite, given the relative hesitancy leaguewide to break the bank at the position.