INDIANAPOLIS — Darius Leonard always believed he was the best linebacker in football. The Indianapolis Colts made sure he gets paid like it.
The two-time All-Pro agreed on Sunday to a five-year contract extension worth $99.25 million that includes $52 million in guaranteed money, according to a person with knowledge of the deal. The person requested anonymity because the team has not released the terms publicly.
It tops the five-year, $95.225 million contract Fred Warner recently signed with San Francisco, making Leonard the NFL’s highest-paid linebacker — at least for now.
“I’m a competitor, so if you aren’t first, you’re last,”″ Leonard said while wearing a Colts cowboy hat. “Just to have my name right now at the top, that’s something I don’t take for granted. I have to continue to go out and prove I can play.”
In 42 games, all starts, the former South Carolina State star has 416 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, 15 sacks and nine forced fumbles. He also has seven interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown. He’s the 10th player since 1987 to top the 400-tackle mark in his first three seasons.
In 2020, Leonard started 14 games and had 132 tackles, seven tackles for loss and three sacks. His average of 9.9 tackles per game is the highest since he entered the league.