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Rapoport says the timing will be important for Fred Warner’s contract extension

Colts LB Darius Leonard is set to cash in as well

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers are going to pay Fred Warner. That’s inevitable. We don’t need to stress about whether the organization will pay the best linebacker in the NFL. Save your energy and hashtags for something else.

The question was always how much money the Niners are willing to fork out for their star defender. Warner is scheduled to make $3.6 million in 2021. If there is any holdout, it’s warranted.

OTAs begin next week for the 49ers, but a contract likely won’t come until around training camp. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the timing would be important for a Warner extension as the Colts and linebacker Darius Leonard have begun contract negotiations.

Rapoport said that Leonard wants to be the highest-paid linebacker in the game. That would mean Leonard would make more than $18 million per season, which is the current AAV for Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner.

On Tuesday, Rapoport said the 49ers have yet to begin contract negotiations with Warner:

“The 49ers would like to lock up Warner, who also could eclipse Bobby Wagner. Those two sides have not started (discussions) yet, but it’s going to be interesting to see the timing of Darius Leonard and Warner to see who goes first in getting paid.”

I’d be curious to see if there’s a sense of urgency from the Niners, knowing they could have to pay a few million to top Leonard’s potential contract if the team were to wait.

Then again, it may not be that big of a deal as the main priority is to retain your own, and, in this case, he just so happens to be one of the best defenders in the league.

Is there a number that’s too high for Warner? He’s near the top in most statistical categories for linebackers, which still sells Warner’s value short.