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INDIANAPOLIS It’s taken 5 years, but Quenton Nelson is finally getting paid at a value that falls in line with many other All-Pros.

Of course, to some, paying a guard the amount of money Nelson will make in 2022 is not the best way to manage your cap situation.

Chris Ballard is not one who falls into that latter line of that thinking.

Ballard is staunch in that no matter the position, you pay good players the money they deserve.

Therefore, it’s fully expected Nelson will sign a gargantuan contract extension with the Colts, potentially coming before the 2022 season.

“Quenton is a Colt,” Ballard said earlier this offseason.

“I want him to be a Colt long-term. When we do the contract, we will work through that.”

Nelson’s rookie contract jumps big time this year (to $13.7 million), as he plays on the team option that comes in the 5th year for all former first-round picks. The Colts picked the option up last offseason, knowing that such a price still falls short of what Nelson’s representation will believe he is worth.

Currently, the NFL’s highest paid offensive guard is making $16 million (Joe Thuney). The NFL’s highest paid offensive lineman is at $23 million (Trent Williams).

Will Nelson get into tackle money, seeking $20-some million annually?

Ballard, jokingly, shutters at such a thought.

It is about to be a far different Colts cap situation when you take a closer look at the $15-20 million annual cap situations for Darius Leonard, DeForest Buckner, Braden Smith, and then those likely coming for Nelson, Michael Pittman and Jonathan Taylor (plus the notable increase in Matt Ryan’s contract for 2023).

For the Colts, they should have some leverage in those Nelson talks given that the big man had 3 surgeries in less than a year, leading into last season.

Nelson missed his first ever NFL game last year, going on injured reserve for a 3-game October absence due to a high ankle sprain.

Outside of that, the Colts could point to the position that Nelson plays in trying to keep his second contract under a number you typically see reserved for more premium positions (pass rusher, left tackle, wide receiver).

Would slapping a franchise tag just north of $17 million on Nelson for the 2023 season make sense, or just frustrate an important pillar player? Remember, the Colts haven’t used the franchise tag in a decade.

The 26-year-old Nelson is one of three Colts who have their images on the side of Lucas Oil Stadium (Darius Leonard and Quenton Nelson are on the north side of the stadium, with DeForest Buckner and free agent T.Y. Hilton on the south side).

No matter how others might view giving Nelson such money, the Colts are poised to do it.

And Nelson enters this contract season in a much different physical state than this time last year.

“I feel great,” the 6th overall pick from 2018 says. “Strong, healthy, just ready to go. Excited for camp. I’m not going in there with two surgeries.

“You are what you put on tape and at the end of the day, that’s how I play and it is what it is but I can look at myself and know I gave my all getting treatment and the time I spent on my body to try to get it right as much as I can during the whole season.”