In a surprising move, the Indianapolis Colts released All-Pro linebacker Shaq Leonard on Tuesday, a league source tells FanBuzz.
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network was first to report the Leonard News, that one of the game's most productive linebackers of the past decade would be on the move. Shortly thereafter, the 28-year-old posted a farewell message to the Colts and Indianapolis fans across his social media accounts:
Indy, I thank you ? pic.twitter.com/VxMa1VU2IA
— Darius Shaquille Leonard (@dsleon45) November 21, 2023
Leonard, originally chosen in the second-round of the 2018 NFL Draft, was a three-time First-Team All-Pro, and as recently as 2021 when he posted 122 total tackles with four interceptions, just one shy of his career-high.
A six-year veteran, Leonard has 614 total tackles, 15 sacks, 32 tackles for loss, 17 forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries, 12 interceptions, and 31 pass breakups through his first 70 games.
This season, Shane Steichen's first as the Colts head coach, and Gus Bradley's first as Indianapolis' defensive coordinator, Leonard saw his playing time dramatically reduced from where it had been in previous seasons.
"I just feel like each week I prove who I am. The way I play the game is getting better and better each week," Leonard told reporters on Thursday, per CBS 4 Indy. "But they say I don't make enough splash plays, so I guess I'll still be watching for a bit."
Those frustrations appear to have reached a boiling point, and Leonard now hits the waiver where, where whichever team claims him would be responsible for the remaining $6.1 million for the 2023 campaign.
Contending teams with plenty of cap space, such as the San Francisco 49ers ($39.4 million) and Cleveland Browns ($33.3 million) could see value in Leonard as a potential waiver claim fit. Should Leonard pass through waivers, he would be free to sign with any team.
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