Quenton Nelson's $13.7M 5th-Year Contract Option Exercised by Colts

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistApril 28, 2021

Indianapolis Colts guard Quenton Nelson (56) drops into pass protection during an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Zach Bolinger)
Zach Bolinger/Associated Press

The Indianapolis Colts announced Wednesday they are picking up the fifth-year option on guard Quenton Nelson's contract. 

Nelson will make $13.7 million in the final year of his rookie deal. That base salary is fully guaranteed, though it's possible the Colts and Nelson reach a long-term contract agreement before the start of the 2022 season.

The Colts exercising the option was a no-brainer, with Nelson emerging as arguably the NFL's best guard since being taken No. 6 overall in 2018. He has been a first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowler during each of his first three NFL seasons. Pro Football Focus has given him a grade of at least 79.7 during each campaign. 

There has been some speculation that Nelson will move to left tackle following the retirement of Anthony Castonzo. However, Colts owner Jim Irsay said the team's current plan is for Nelson to remain a guard.

"The general feeling is that if you can leave Quenton at guard, that would be the ideal thing," Irsay said during an appearance on 1070 The Fan's The JMV Show. "But there's no question that he can play left tackle in my mind and would play left tackle in my mind if it helps the franchise win more games and be a better football team. I think that's the way Frank Reich looks at it, and that's the way Quenton looks at it. 'I'll do anything you need if it can help the team be better.' And he's a selfless guy, and that's the reason he's such a great leader and a great person and a great football player.

"But again, ideally, his power, his bend, his explosion inside, his ability to move people in a short space, is so, so rare. Probably only matched by John Hannah and I'll include Chris Hinton in there. ... He's such a rare football player."

Nelson's all-around brilliance will undoubtedly make him the highest-paid guard in NFL history when he and the Colts begin long-term contract negotiations. 

Joe Thuney's five-year, $80 million contract with the Kansas City Chiefs is currently the largest contract ever given to a guard in terms of average annual value. It's possible Nelson will someday become football's first nine-figure guard.