Insider Reveals Cowboys, Eagles’ Interest in All-Pro LB Shaquille Leonard

Shaquille Leonard

Getty Former Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard.

The rivalry between the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys could have a new star on the field the next time the NFC East foes meet in Week 14.

According to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Wednesday, November 22, both the Cowboys and Eagles are expected to show “some level of interest” in recently released former Indianapolis Colts All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard.

Leonard, released by the Colts on Tuesday, cleared waivers on Wednesday afternoon and is officially free to sign with any team of his choosing.

A key reason that Leonard went unclaimed, despite being a former three-time First-Team All-Pro is the fact that any team that would have claimed him would have been responsible for the remaining $6.1 million he is due for the rest of the 2023 season.

Prior to being released, Leonard had spoken out about his frustrations over seeing his role reduced this season. Through the first 10 games of the season, Leonard has 65 total tackles.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see either the Cowboys or Eagles wind up signing Leonard, and he makes a lot of sense for both defenses.

Why the Cowboys Make Sense for Shaquille Leonard

The moment Shaq Leonard’s flight touches down at DFW, the veteran linebacker would walk into a starting role in Dan Quinn’s defense.

Dallas is paper thin at linebacker, especially after losing Leighton Vander Esch for the remainder of the season. There isn’t a bigger upgrade available, especially with the NFL trade deadline fading in the distance in the rearview mirror, than Leonard.

Damone Clark and Markquese Bell have struggled mightily, in place of Vander Esch, and Sunday against Carolina, the Panthers gashed the Cowboys’ front seven en route to over 4.8 yards per carry, on the ground.

Because of Micah Parsons’ presence, as one of the most dominant edge rushers in the game today, the Cowboys wouldn’t need Leonard to return to his elite form as a pass-rusher, with 15.0 career sacks, but he can step in and become a tackle magnet, especially against the run.

If the Cowboys are going to make any ground on the Eagles in the NFC East, and make any meaningful moves up the NFC hierarchy as the postseason looms, adding a steady veteran linebacker who can be as productive — especially against the run, as Leonard is, would give the defense a significant boost.

What Shaquille Leonard Would Bring the Philadelphia Eagles

Howie Roseman is one of the more aggressive general managers in the league, especially when it comes to adding veterans midseason, and Leonard fits the profile of the type of player the Eagles could target.

Last season, the Eagles brought in Ndamukong Suh and traded for veteran defensive end Robert Quinn prior to the deadline, and just before the 2023 trade deadline it was Kevin Byard in Roseman’s sights as a pre-deadline acquisition.

Philadelphia boasts a Super Bowl-caliber roster, and is fresh off going into Arrowhead Stadium and beating the Kansas City Chiefs, but Leonard would add some much-needed linebacker depth and a solid veteran voice on the defense.

Sometimes the circumstances of how it happens are different, right? The need at the position because maybe of an injury. I think what [Executive Vice President/ General Manager] Howie [Roseman] and his staff have done an unbelievable job of is not only getting good players that can help us, but good people who fit into the locker room.

“We get these guys like [CB Bradley] Roby and [S] Kevin Byard that have come in, Julio,” Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni told reporters during his Wednesday press conference, prior to playing the Bills. “That have come in and like these are top-notch pros as far as players, but also really good teammates as well. So that’s Howie and his staff doing the homework of, ‘Hey, this is the right type of guy to bring in here right now where there is a need.’”

Leonard would certainly fit that profile.

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