Insider: Cowboys Pro Bowl Target Aiming for NFC East ‘Bidding War’

Shaquille Leonard (left) and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones

Getty Shaquille Leonard (left) and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones

It remains to be seen what will happen with free agent linebacker Shaquille Leonard, who visited the Cowboys on Tuesday, November 28 as both sides attempted to feel each other out about what kind of fit Leonard would have in Dallas.

Leonard met with owner and GM Jerry Jones, among others, then moved on to Philadelphia, for a meeting with the Eagles.

Ultimately, it is likely to be the weekend before Leonard makes up his mind on where he is going to go after his stunning release from the Colts last week. Just how much Leonard will be able to contribute remains a question, because he has seen limited snaps in his return from a back surgery that he had last year, one which wound up keeping him out for all but three games (he had a concussion in 2022 as well).

But there is now doubt that Leonard is looking to maximize the situation. He is only 28 years old and wants to land with a team that gives him a chance to win in the short term and to land a major long-term deal, as well.

What Leonard wants, according to ESPN insider Dan Graziano, is a “bidding war,” for his services, and if he could get that between NFC East Rivals like Dallas and Philadelphia, all the better.

Intra-Division ‘Bidding War’ Is the Goal

Here’s what Graziano had to say about Shaquille Leonard’s chances of landing in Dallas, after Leonard failed to agree to a contract with the Cowboys this week:

“The Cowboys didn’t get a deal done with free agent linebacker Shaquille Leonard when he was in their facility Tuesday, but that doesn’t mean they won’t eventually do one. Dallas wanted to get him in the building, assess where he is health-wise and talk to him about role and fit. Leonard, as I understand it, wants to assess his options and secure the best possible deal, as anyone in his position would. So this is something that could still take a few days.”

The fact that Leonard then went on to visit the Eagles is certainly noteworthy—and, Graziano implied, shrewd. What better way to make the Cowboys overpay for one’s services than the get the Eagles involved?

“Leonard is also set for a visit with the Eagles, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter,” Graziano wrote, “and from Leonard’s standpoint, that would be a dream come true: a bidding war between division rivals for his services. So we’ll see in the next couple of days how serious Philly is and if anyone else reaches out. But it’s still entirely possible he ends up a Cowboy.”

Shaquille Leonard Would Have a Surefire Role With Cowboys

In his six-year NFL career, Leonard made three All-Pro teams and three Pro Bowl teams before having back surgery last year. This season, in nine games, Colts coaches were treating Leonard with kid gloves, playing him in 70% of the team’s snaps. He had played in 93% or more of the Colts snaps in the years before the back surgery.

Leonard was not happy, according to ESPN, about being told he was being replaced on third downs and, sometimes, on other downs, too. He would likely get more freedom from the Cowboys, who are hoping to replace Leighton Vander Esch, out for the rest of the year with a neck injury.

“That’s when I kind of knew, and it sucked hearing that,” Leonard said earlier this month. “You’re already not playing on third [down]; you’re taking the reps on second down too? So it’s very heartbreaking to get that, but it is what it is.”

Ultimately, Leonard and the Colts agreed upon a parting of the ways. Now, though, look for Shaquille Leonard to get the most out of his current opportunity.

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