American Football

Report: Ex-Colts LB Shaquille Leonard will continue free agency tour with Eagles


NFL: SEP 23 Colts at Eagles
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Former Colts All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard will visit another NFC East contender as a free agent.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, fresh off his Tuesday visit with the Dallas Cowboys, former Indianapolis Colts All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard will continue his free agency tour with another NFC East contender:

Leonard was scheduled to visit with the Philadelphia Eagles before he stopped in Dallas, so it’s rather unsurprising that he reportedly has left the Cowboys facility without inking a contract.

It doesn’t mean that Dallas is necessarily out of the picture yet, it just means that Leonard is at least considering both longtime divisional rivals—and rightfully hearing what they have to say regarding his potential playing time and defensive scheme fit.

It’s also possible that other NFL playoff suitors could still join the mix here, and Leonard may take a little time with his ultimate decision—reportedly until this weekend.

New Eagles defensive coordinator Sean Desai deploys a defensive scheme similar to the one regarding the man he replaced in Philly, former Colts defensive backs coach Jonathan Gannon, who’s now the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. That means a heavy emphasis on a Cover 2 defensive scheme and quarters coverage.

Both of which Leonard should be readily familiar with from his prior tenure with the Colts.

If he ultimately signs, Leonard should already know a familiar face too regarding Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni, who was the Colts offensive coordinator from 2018-20, and presumably saw a lot of Leonard in his athletic prime on game days and the practice field.

Following two back surgeries, Leonard still hasn’t fully regained his physical form when he was one of the best linebackers in football—having noticeably lost speed, athleticism, and flexibility/bend from when he was truly ‘The Maniac.’ That being said, the instincts, play recognition, and knack for finding the football are likely all still there. In that regard, he could be a solid veteran linebacker addition for a contending team down the final stretch.

Honestly, the best case scenario may be that he becomes how D’Qwell Jackson was for the Colts (2014-16), who having been signed at 31 years old was considerably slower/less athletic than he was in his physical prime, but still had a nose for the football and racking up tackles (as well as served as a veteran leader for those Indy defenses).

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