The Colts didn't wait long to elevate Darius Leonard to the pinnacle of the linebacker pay pyramid.
Leonard and the Colts have agreed to a five-year, $99.25 million extension, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Sunday. The team announced the signing later Sunday.
The new deal makes Leonard the highest-paid inside linebacker in the NFL, includes $52.5 million in guaranteed money and is scheduled to pay Leonard $20 million per year over the first three years, Rapoport added.
Leonard has been named an All-Pro in each of his three seasons, including two first-team selections in 2018 and 2020. The former second-round pick has been an instant and consistent producer, averaging 9.9 tackles per game in his three-year career while leading the league in tackles in 2018 and twice finishing in the top eight in the NFL in the category.
The athletic Leonard is capable of playing sideline-to-sideline, chasing down ballcarriers and occasionally harassing quarterbacks with 15 career sacks to his name. And perhaps most importantly, Leonard is a master at shutting down rushing attempts headed toward the middle of the defense's second level, giving the Colts a reliable stopper in the heart of their defense.
Leonard's deal was the latest and perhaps greatest in terms of importance to the Colts, who have made it a priority to secure their key players' services for years to come. After locking up right tackle Braden Smith with a new extension, Indianapolis has ensured its top defender isn't going anywhere for the next half decade.