Colts’ Darius Leonard one of NFL’s few unsigned draft picks
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – There’s unfinished business for the Indianapolis Colts, but it isn’t business that won’t get finished before the start of training camp later this month.
Darius Leonard, one of the team’s record four second-round picks in the April draft, is the only one of the 11 selections who remains unsigned. The linebacker out of South Carolina State finds himself in exclusive company: he’s one of 15 unsigned picks from the 256-player draft.
A source with knowledge of the situation insisted Leonard’s signing “isn’t imminent,’’ but added it “will get done before camp.’’ The Colts report July 25 to training camp at Grand Park in Westfield, and only players under contract are allowed to participate.
The NFL’s rookie wage scale has greatly accelerated the signing of draft picks. Protracted negotiations are rare.
Nine of the Colts’ 11 draft picks were signed May 11, including first rounder Quenton Nelson. The Notre Dame guard signed a four-year, $23.889 million deal that was guaranteed and included a $15.454 missing signing bonus.
The 10th draftee, second-round guard Braden Smith, agreed to terms June 27.
While there are details to be negotiated, Leonard, the 36th overall pick, is due a four-year, $7.248 million contract that includes a $3.35 million signing bonus. Smith, taken 37th overall by the Colts, reportedly received a four-year, $7.193 million contract that included a $3.31 million signing bonus.
Leonard is expected to challenge for a starting spot as a rookie, but will be playing catch-up when he reports to camp. An undisclosed injury forced him to miss the vast majority of the Colts’ offseason work.
“When you are implementing a new system and a new style, I think that every rep is important,’’ defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus said last month. “So to diminish that would be disrespectful to the game and I think to the players that have been in there.
“So to miss any rep, albeit at walkthrough or team reps at this time of year is very critical. We will get those guys caught up to speed the best we can . . . but they have some catching up to do and they have to show what they are made of in terms of their learning abilities and their play ability. It doesn’t matter if it was a first-round pick or if it’s a free agent. Everybody is held to the same standard.’’
Across the NFL, the 15 unsigned draft picks includes the top 4 players selected and seven of the top 10. The outliers: Leonard; wideout Dante Pettis, taken in the second round by the San Francisco 49ers; and defensive lineman R.J. McIntosh, selected in the fifth round by the New York Giants.