General manager Chris Ballard spoke to the press on Tuesday, Aug. 31, and dropped some hints about the future of some Indianapolis Colts, including two stars.
While evaluating the 53-man roster with the press, Ballard discussed All-Pro players Quenton Nelson and Shaquille Leonard, one more positively than the other.
Quenton Nelson’s contract
All-Pro Left Guard QuentonNelson is set for a contract extension as he enters his fifth season in the NFL and some are wondering how much the left guard should be paid during his next contract.
“You pay your special players. And he is special to us. Hopefully we will get there,” says Ballard after practice. Chances are that Nelson will be extended before free agency. But how far are the Colts willing to go in negotiations?
According Professional Football Reference, Quenton Nelson has played 61 games out of a possible 65. In his first three years in the league, Nelson never missed a start. Almost unprecedented for an offensive lineman.
As a rookie, Nelson would be named a first-team All-Pro. A trend that will continue for its first three seasons. While he missed four games in 2021, Nelson still earned a Pro Bowl nomination for his fourth straight season.
In four seasons, Nelson has only been charged with 4 sacks and 17 quarterback hits according to Focus on professional football. He was one of PFF’s top three guards in 2019 and 2020 but suffered a down year in 2021 landing at No. 35.
When it comes to actual contract numbers, there is certainly precedent. According spotrac, star offensive guards have been well paid, to say the least. dallas Cowboys guard Zack Martin, arguably the best in his position, is leading the way with a six-year contract worth $84 million, with $40 million guaranteed. Joe Thuney of the Kansas City Chiefs signed a five-year, $80 million contract in 2021 with nearly $47 million guaranteed.
Behind the first two, there is a significant drop in overall value. New Orleans’ Andrus Peat rings in at $57.5 million with the Browns’ Wyatt Teller at $56.8 million. Nelson will surely win more than either.
Quenton Nelson deserves to be near the top of the strictly aloof accolades list, and his reliability should further boost his stock. The Colts currently have over $10 million in salary cap, placing 15th overall. That number skyrockets to over $34 million, 10th overall, in 2023. Needless to say, Indianapolis will have plenty of room to sign Nelson for the foreseeable future.
Ballard with no commitment on Shaquille Leonard’s future
“You can’t miss all that time and just be ready for the game…I can’t give you a timeline. Maybe the first week, maybe the sixth week, ” said Ballard of All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard. Leonard is recovering from an ankle wound who plagued his 2021 season with back surgery at the end of June.
The Colts placed Leonard on the List of people physically unable to perform on July 24 and did not know when he would be deported. Leonard missed all OTAs and training camp and many thought he could miss several weeks in the regular season. But on Monday, August 30, Leonard was removed from PUP list and practiced for the first time the next day.
While Leonard could still be short on regular season time, it’s a huge leap forward to have him back on the training ground.