The Indianapolis Colts agreed to a four-year, $80 million extension with three-time All-Pro Quenton Nelson on Saturday, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
The deal includes $60 million guaranteed and makes him the highest-paid guard in NFL history in terms of average annual value.
Nelson, the sixth overall pick in the 2018 draft, was approaching the end of his rookie contract. ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported on Aug. 10 that the Colts were looking to give him a new deal and were hopeful of getting something done by the end of the month.
The 26-year-old was in a great position to become the highest-paid guard in the league, surpassing Brandon Scherff's $16.5 million average salary.
Coming out of the 2017 season, the Colts clearly needed to address the offensive line. They ranked 18th in adjusted line yards and 32nd in adjusted sack rate, per Football Outsiders.
Nelson provided an immediate impact, earning Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors and finishing third in the Offensive Rookie of the Year voting. Indianapolis also improved to fourth in adjusted line yards and second in adjusted sack rate in 2018.
Nelson's performance hasn't fallen off since then. He has been particularly dominant as a pass-blocker, providing consistency to a passing game that has seen a lot of turnover at quarterback.
Heading into the 2022 season, Pro Football Focus' Sam Monson ranked Nelson as the 11th-best player in the NFL at any position:
"Nelson has as much talent as any offensive lineman in the game, but we didn’t see a fully healthy version of him in 2021. At his best, he is a unique force in the running game and a very high-level pass blocker, but he needs to bounce back in 2022 now that he is back to full health."
There's little reason to think Nelson is a risky long-term investment, though. He made 51 straight starts to open his career. He has also more than earned a big raise through his on-field contributions, too.
Re-signing Nelson wasn't a cheap endeavor for the Colts, but it was clearly an easy decision, given his value to the team.
Locking in his salary figure will also help general manager Chris Ballard know how much he has to spend in 2024. Grover Stewart, Kenny Moore II, Michael Pittman Jr. and Jonathan Taylor are all due to become free agents.