Darius Leonard, Xavien Howard Get Paid

More contract news for Sunday morning.

Remember Fred Warner’s contract from two weeks ago? He’s no longer the highest-paid off-ball linebacker in NFL history. That title now belongs to Darius Leonard of the Colts, who signed a five-year, $98.5-million extension. Leonard was first-team All-Pro twice over the last three years. He makes a ton of plays, but his big plays (defeats) have gone down each of the last three years: second in the NFL with 37 as a rookie in 2018, then 28 in 13 games in 2019, and then 19 in a full season last year. He’s not the man coverage linebacker that Fred Warner is; he’s mostly in zones and his coverage charting stats were poor last season, just a 29% success rate in coverage (74th among ranked linebackers). So that does bring up the argument about relative positional value again, because this time we’re paying a linebacker whose excellence is more against the run than it is against the pass (although Leonard also gets used as a pass-rusher a little bit, and he’s good at that too).

One advantage that Leonard does have over Warner is excellent taste in hats (see photo above).

In other contract news, the Miami Dolphins have restructured cornerback Xavien Howard, which ends his trade demand. His base salary of $12.8 million was full guaranteed with $3.5 million in incentives added, plus there are changes to the 2022 contract terms as well. Howard had ten interceptions a year ago and ranked seventh among cornerbacks in coverage success rate.


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