CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - NOVEMBER 05: Shaquille Leonard #53 of the Indianapolis Colts looks on against the Carolina Panthers during the game at Bank of America Stadium on November 05, 2023 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Shaq Leonard's Fit With the Eagles, Explained by Scouts and Executives

Howie Roseman and the Eagles have done it again.

The Eagles agreed to terms with former All-Pro linebacker Shaq Leonard on Monday, dropping an athletic playmaker into a veteran defense while filling a pressing need.

"Shaq is the ideal replacement for Zach Cunningham," an AFC South Scouting Director told FanBuzz, on the condition of anonymity to speak freely about a player on another team.

Cunningham will likely miss several weeks due to a hamstring injury that kept him sidelined from Sunday afternoon's 42-19 Eagles blowout loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

If Leonard can return to form, Cunningham might be reduced to the role of spectator.

Prior to taking on a reduced role with the Indianapolis Colts, which ultimately led to his release, Leonard had been one of the premier players at his position. Through the first 70 games of his career, Leonard has produced 614 total tackles with 32 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, 17 forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

"He really fits their athletic and length profile," an AFC personnel executive told FanBuzz. "He's a run and hit player who you can unleash behind a dominant defensive line."

Leonard had previously been weighing his options between signing with the Eagles, and the NFC East rival Dallas Cowboys, ultimately landing in the City of Brotherly Love after visiting both teams.

Now, Leonard will potentially be on the field to face the team that he spurned, after clearing waivers, when the Eagles travel to Arlington to take on the Cowboys on Sunday night.

Stream the NFL on CBS live all season long on Paramount+. Try it FREE!

With the Eagles, Leonard also reunites with Nick Sirianni, who was the Colts' offensive coordinator from 2018 through 2020.

Prior to his signing, Sirianni insisted to Leonard that he hoped he wound up ultimately making the best decision for the 28-year-old and his family.

"I want Shaq to make the decision that's best for him," Srianni told reporters. "Because, again, when there is that prior relationship you want to make sure — and that's what I said to him, 'I just want you to make the best decision for you. Take all the information from both places and do what's best for you.'

"So, I've called him a bunch the last couple days, and, shoot, he'll make the decision that's best for him. I'm confident in that. He's a good person."

A league source confirmed to FanBuzz that Leonard arrives in Philadelphia on a one-year contract. The Eagles give Leonard a legitimate chance to win the Super Bowl this season, and the 28-year-old will walk into a starting role.

MORE: Former Eagles All-Pro Retires After 15 NFL Seasons