The Philadelphia Eagles have added more firepower to their defense, as they’ve reportedly agreed to a one-year contract with three-time All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard on Monday.
Leonard was released by the Indianapolis Colts in a move he called “shocking” last month. He has since been on visits to teams, and one of them was the Eagles.
The other team was the Dallas Cowboys, which the Eagles have on their schedule for Week 14.
Leonard’s release comes as his role with the team diminished due to the lack of explosiveness and production the Colts saw this season. He underwent two back surgeries in 2022 to address nerve issues, which were impacting his lower body.
As he continued to recover this season, Leonard saw his playing time slip more and more by the week. He played 70% of defensive snaps in nine games this season, which is by far his lowest mark. The next closest was 93% in 2020.
The 28-year-old Leonard has 65 tackles, two for loss, in nine games this season.
It will be interesting to see how the Eagles utilize Leonard on its defense, which is filled with playmakers. Philadelphia has Zach Cunningham, Nicholas Morrow, Haason Reddick and others at linebacker, all of whom have played well this season.
Whether Leonard will slot right in this Sunday in a crucial NFC East matchup is yet to be known, but head coach Nick Sirianni may want to get him in as fast as possible.
The Eagles were dominated by the San Francisco 49ers at home on Sunday, 42-19, where their defense allowed numerous big plays in the middle of the field.
So Philadelphia will hope adding Leonard, who has had a knack for game-changing plays over his six NFL seasons, can provide a spark at the second level much as he did with the Colts prior to this year, serving as a team captain.
Leonard’s accolades in the NFL also include the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2018, making first-team All-Pro in 2018, 2020 and 2021, and earning three straight Pro Bowl nods from 2019-2021.