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INDIANAPOLIS – It’s not something that will immediately occur in 2021, but it definitely could happen later this offseason.

With the impressive 2018 draft class of the Colts nearing the ends to their respective rookie contracts, several of those guys have shown enough to be worthy of a contract extension discussion.

Similar to what we saw with Grover Stewart last year, the Colts are looking to keep their own, as long as that player is checking off the necessary boxes for the organization.

Now, with a more complicated cap situation due to COVID and also general roster mechanics, it’s no definite that these extensions get done in 2021. Nonetheless, the names below are important pieces for the Colts moving forward.

Who are some Colts currently under contract who could receive extensions in 2021?

Braden Smith (2022 free agent): As a 2nd round pick, Smith is heading into the final season of his 4-year rookie contract. Smith is an extremely important building block for the Colts moving forward. From how he handles himself as a pro, to what he’s meant to the Colts on the field in finding a pretty darn good right tackle, Smith deserves an extension.

Darius Leonard (2022 free agent): Even though linebacker might not be as valued as other positions on the team, the Colts have a rare player/leader in Leonard. And WILL linebacker means a lot to Matt Eberflus and the defense. Like Smith, Leonard has 1 more year left on his rookie deal. With Leonard’s Hall of Fame like production to start his NFL career, and innate work ethic, he is a side of Lucas Oil Stadium type of piece. Leonard definitely deserves a second contract this offseason, as he has far exceeded his current contract of 4 years/$7.2 million.

Quenton Nelson (2022/23 free agent): Now, many will just look at Nelson’s name and say ‘duh.’ But this is a little bit more complicated for a couple of reasons. First, because Nelson was a 1st round pick, the Colts can pick up a 5th year team option on his rookie deal for the 2022 season. Also, would a move to left tackle impact Nelson’s second contract? Again, the Colts can pick up Nelson’s 5th year option (for the 2022 season) this offseason and still wait to give him that mega second contract next offseason. But he is extension eligible and is probably going to garner the biggest contract an NFL offensive linemen has ever seen.

Nyheim Hines (2022 free agent): Even more so than linebacker, it’s pretty rare for running backs to see a contract extension before the end of their rookie deals. But Hines is a guy that has positioned himself to be in the conversation for one. As a durable and versatile option out of the backfield, Hines has yet to miss a game in the NFL and is a player this staff loves for his work ethic and drive. Of course, Marlon Mack didn’t receive a contract extension last offseason coming off a 1,000-yard season, so this one is likely on the back burner.