Former All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard was surprisingly released by the Indianapolis Colts on Tuesday. And now the question is, which team will bring him in for their playoff push for the rest of the season?
Leonard has proven over the years that at his best he can be one of the best linebackers in all of football. In each of his first four seasons, Leonard was named an All-Pro and a Pro Bowler.
Unfortunately, things went sideways between Leonard and the Colts, which led to his release. But he can certainly still be an impact player on any defense if put in the right situation.
Here are five teams that could be a great fit for Leonard.
5. Chicago Bears
This seems like an obvious fit for Leonard considering his relationship with second-year head coach Matt Eberflus. Eberflus was the defensive coordinator in Indianapolis from 2018-2021.
These were the best years of Leonard’s career in Indianapolis, and he would likely be a terrific fit in the Bears defense that desperately needs some help.
The Bears allow the fourth-most points in all of football defensively. With a player like Leonard manning the outside linebacker position for Chicago, that number would likely be far less.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers have continued to excel this season due to some elite play defensively in spite of a painfully average offense. But Pittsburgh does have some serious issues at their linebacker position when it comes to depth.
Both starting linebackers Cole Holcomb and Kwon Alexander suffered season-ending injuries, which led to the team playing practice squad linebacker Mykal Walker on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Leonard would seemingly be a big upgrade to their linebacker position over Walker, and could help continue Pittsburgh’s playoff push for the rest of the year.
3. Dallas Cowboys
Dallas has issues of their own at the linebacker position after owner Jerry Jones revealed that former Pro Bowler Leighton Vander Esch will not return this season after a neck injury.
The Cowboys always seem to be in the market for big-name players. And Leonard would certainly qualify as a high-upside player that this organization seems to love.
2. Philadelphia Eagles
If Leonard wants to go to a true Super Bowl contender, the Eagles could be the best fit for him.
Eagles linebacker Nakobe Dean unfortunately was placed on IR with a Lisfranc injury earlier this year, and a player like Leonard could be a solid compliment to an already impressive linebacking corps of Nicolas Morrow and Zach Cunningham.
Adding a player like Leonard to an already great defense for the Eagles could be exactly what this team needs to bring the Lombardi Trophy home to Philadelphia.
1. Buffalo Bills
Buffalo could be the best home for Leonard considering it fills a big need for the team, and he will also immediately slide into a big role on a contending team.
Veteran linebacker Matt Milano reportedly has a very slim chance of returning this season. And Leonard is perhaps the best candidate to fill Milano’s role as an elite run-stopper on this Bills team.
Buffalo’s defense hasn’t been the same since Milano’s injury. Bringing in a player like Leonard could return them to the elite defense they were expected to be this season.