NFL Has New Highest-Paid Inside Linebacker After All-Pro Signs Extension

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The Indianapolis Colts have agreed to an extension with linebacker Darius Leonard, their first-round pick from 2018, after three consecutive All-Pro nods. The new contract is reportedly a 5-year, $99.2 million agreement, making Leonard the highest-paid inside linebacker in the NFL. Leonard’s new deal also guarantees $52.5 million.

Fred Warner, inside linebacker for the 49ers, briefly held onto the “highest-paid” title after he signed a 5-year, $95 million extension with $40.5 million in guaranteed money in July. Warner’s deal then gave fellow 2018 draftees, Roquan Smith and Leonard a baseline to adjust their own extensions.

While the Bears have yet to lock up Smith, the Colts acted with urgency to retain the elite Leonard after three outstanding seasons in Indy.

Leonard was awarded Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2019 after he recorded 163 total tackles (111 solo). He followed up that rookie campaign with a second-team All-Pro nod in 2019 and first-team honors in 2020.

The Colts’ defensive stock is on the rise going into the 2021-2022 season, which will prove beneficial for the team as head coach Frank Reich and the offense figure out a plan now that starting QB Carson Wentz has been injured.

Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela

Written by Alejandro Avila

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