Where will Shaquille Leonard play after his Colts release? Exploring the potential landing spots for the three-time All-Pro LB

Shaquille Leonard, formerly a standout linebacker with the Colts who had a brawl with the Eagles, faced a decline attributed to persistent injuries. Despite a stellar start to his career, including winning Defensive Rookie of the Year and multiple All-Pro honors, Leonard’s recent seasons were marred by back injuries. 

Limited to three games in 2022 due to surgery and setbacks, the 28-year-old struggled to replicate the speed and explosiveness of his earlier years. This decline in physical performance impacted his on-field contributions, leading to the Colts’ making the difficult decision. 

Colts release Shaquille Leonard

The Colts decided to part ways with Shaquille Leonard, officially waiving him from their roster. The LB was an exceptional player but because of recurring injuries, he faced a decline in his performance. 

He suffered a back injury, which sidelined him for the last season. This impacted his overall performance even after he recovered. He struggled to match the speed and explosiveness showcased in his earlier All-Pro seasons.

The LB cleared waivers promptly after his release, officially becoming a free agent. Leonard talked about his departure from the team in a social media post, expressing gratitude to the Colts.

“Indy, I want to thank you for accepting me and my family with open arms. These past six years has been nothing but incredible! Through the good times and bad time y’all stood by my side. I apologize for not bringing that trophy back to the 317. The energy at Lucas Oil has been nothing but amazing and I thank you for every memory. I’m thankful to play for such an amazing fan base. I love you guys and wish the Colts nothing but the best!”

Via USA Today

Colts owner Jim Irsay took to social media to reflect on Leonard’s departure.

“Colts Nation will always remember The Maniac’s palpable energy on the field with each tackle, interception, punchout, and fumble recovery,” Irsay said in a statement. 

While reminiscing about Shaquille Leonard’s energetic on-field presence, Irsay also emphasized the challenging nature of the NFL as a business. 

“Off the field, he’s a servant leader and assisted numerous families in both his hometown and the Indianapolis community. We’re thankful for Shaq and the contributions he made to our organization. We wish him and his beautiful family the best moving forward.”

Leonard’s journey with the Colts began in 2018 when he was drafted as a second-round pick from South Carolina State. His career is marked with remarkable achievements, he earned the Defensive Rookie of the Year title. Despite recent setbacks with injuries, the LB achieved All-Pro status three times and secured four Pro Bowl selections.

Given the financial implications of Leonard’s existing contract, it was improbable for another team to claim him off waivers. This situation has now positioned Shaquille Leonard to negotiate a new contract as a free agent, offering flexibility for both parties.

Potential landing spots for Shaquille Leonard

There are many teams in which the LB can land. Reports indicate interest from the Cowboys, who are actively seeking linebacker assistance. The Cowboys present a compelling scenario for Leonard, allowing him to contribute significantly to one of the league’s top defenses and potentially contend for a Super Bowl.

The Steelers’ linebacker unit is grappling with injuries, prompting the need for reinforcements. The LB can bring stability to the team and also compete for the starting role.

The Eagles, aiming for contention, stand out as an appealing destination for Shaquille Leonard. With linebackers Zach Cunningham and Nicholas Morrow shouldering responsibilities, Leonard could seamlessly integrate into the lineup, strengthening the team’s postseason prospects.

Shaquille Leonard
Via ESPN

A historical connection exists between Leonard and Bears’ head coach Matt Eberflus. Reuniting with Eberflus could offer the LB the opportunity to recapture the successful dynamic they shared during his earlier years in the league.

Till now, Shaquille Leonard hasn’t made any decision about which team he wants to join next. His decision will depend on many factors including the worth of the contract he is being offered.

Maheen Zaib

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Maheen is a writer for SportsZion. She's your go-to for all things NFL, from epic game highlights to trade scoops and breaking news. Navigating the sports scene with flair, join her on this thrilling journey through the NFL's wild ride. Let's score some great reads together!

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