INDIANAPOLIS – The goals have always been lofty.
That’s how Darius Leonard rolls.
It’s not hyperbole to say that Leonard has had a Hall of Fame start to his NFL career.
2018 (15 games): 163 tackles, 7.0 sacks, 2 interceptions, 4 forced fumbles
2019 (13 games): 121 tackles, 5.0 sacks, 5 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles
But you wouldn’t know it when you hear him talk about his goals.
“Super Bowl MVP, (NFL) MVP, Defensive Player of the Year—I wrote down maybe 15 goals last year and only met maybe three or four,” Leonard says.
“That is unacceptable in my book.”
After reaching first-team All-Pro status as a rookie, Leonard followed that up with a second-team All-Pro nod in 2019.
He’s left wanting more though.
The individual goal list for Year 3 (with winning a Super Bowl and having the No. 1 defense atop the team goal list) looks like this:
-200 tackles (“Ultimate goal,” says Leonard. No NFL player has reached this mark since 1987)
-15 sacks (no inside linebacker has recorded more than 10 sacks in a season since 2001)
-10 total takeaways
If Leonard’s third NFL season resembles anything close to his first two, he should/will be looking at a hefty second contract coming next offseason.
Currently, Leonard is the 20th highest paid Colt (due a base salary of $1.1 million in 2020). His $7.7 million rookie contract, which spans 4 years, expires after the 2021 season.
A mega extension, particularly for a guy who checks so many of the Colts standards, is obviously likely.
Labeled a ‘natural playmaker’ a la Charles Tillman by his GM, Leonard’s name resonates all around the NFL.
New teammate Sheldon Day says the 49ers were in awe last year watching some Leonard film.
“Darius Leonard has been a beast,” Day, who was a member of the league’s 2nd ranked defense last year, says. “We always talked about that guy. They say he’s ‘built different’ in the San Francisco building.”
“He’s been a consistent playmaker and his leadership has continued to grow,” Frank Reich says of Leonard. “I’m just excited about him continuing to do that, making plays on the ball and being the consistent player that he is.
“This guy has been everything that you want.”