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Chris Ballard: We’ll continue to work on extensions for Darius Leonard, Braden Smith

Mike Florio answers questions about what Chandler Jones' trade request means for him and the Cardinals and if teams are more inclined to want Aaron Rodgers or Deshaun Watson.

Colts All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard will miss some early training camp practices as he works his way back from an ankle procedure. But that hasn’t changed Indianapolis’ desire to commit to him with a long-term deal.

And Leonard isn’t the only one. The linebacker is entering the final season of his rookie contract, as is right tackle Braden Smith.

On Monday, Colts G.M. Chris Ballard said the organization would like to get something done with both players.

“We’ve had a great back and forth,” Ballard said, via Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star. "[Colts director of football administration] Mike Bluem has been tremendous, as are all the agents we’re working with. It goes back and forth. Getting these early extensions is not always easy, so we’ll continue to work through it. We’ll take care of our guys and see if we can come to a common agreement.”

Both Leonard and Smith recently had benchmarks set for their potential contracts. The 49ers signed Fred Warner to a five-year, $95 million deal to make him the highest-paid inside linebacker in football. Back in June, the Saints signed Ryan Ramczyk to a five-year, $96 million extension to make him the highest-paid right tackle.

Though those aren’t usually described as “premium positions” on an NFL roster in 2021, it doesn’t make a difference to Ballard.

“You’re never going to regret paying a great player,” Ballard said with a laugh. “I don’t give a crap what position the guy plays.”

Based on the Colts’ results with Leonard and Smith over the last few years, they have plenty of reasons to keep both players around on lucrative second contracts.