“You know what you’ve done, and you know what you deserve,” Leonard said earlier this year, an indication that he wouldn’t be giving Indy much of a hometown discount, via Zak Keefer of The Athletic. “Hopefully, they see as much value as I see.”
On Wednesday, the 49ers locked up All-Pro Fred Warner with a five-year, $95M extension. That deal made him the highest-paid inside linebacker in NFL history, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll hold that mantle for long. Even though Leonard’s deal will be slightly shorter, his AAV is expected to trump Warner’s $19M/year. Meanwhile, Seahawks star Bobby Wagner — making $18M annually — will drop to No. 3 on the ILB earnings list.
Taken with the No. 36 overall pick in 2018, Leonard was an instant difference-maker for the Colts. He’s proved to be a great second-round value, but his slot did not provide Indy with a fifth-year option. As a result, he’s currently on course for free agency in the spring of 2022.
Leonard, 26 in July, made an All-Pro team in each of his first three seasons. That includes his first year when he also captured the Defensive Rookie of the Year trophy.