After missing most of last season with a back injured, three-time All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard was not happy with his diminished role in the Indianapolis Colts' defense this season. He has not quite been the same player he was, but the frustration is understandable as he's posted 65 tackles in nine games played,
On Tuesday, the Colts waived Leonard. Via ESPN's Stephen Holder, a Monday meeting with defensive coordinator Gus Bradley included Bradley telling Leonard he'd be inactive this coming Sunday, and likely the rest of the season.
"It was shocking," Leonard said Tuesday evening as he and teammates distributed 200 Thanksgiving turkeys and sides at a church on the west side of Indianapolis. "I asked for a November meeting. I guess I got a November meeting. I guess you've got to be careful what you ask for."
Leonard now becomes an interesting potential in-season addition for someone. A team claiming him off waivers would pay him a little over $6 million for the rest of this season, with only injury guaranteed portion of his salary for 2024. So he seems likely to go unclaimed.
Detroit Lions rumors: Shaquille Leonard incredibly unlikely to land in Detroit
At 8-2, the Lions are of course low in the waiver pecking order. The Chicago Bears, with former Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus as head coach, may put in a claim. But let's assume Leonard goes unclaimed.
The Lions have depth at linebacker. Alex Anzalone rarely leaves the field, and he's also having the best season of his career. Derrick Barnes has been good, playing a 64 percent snap share. Rookie Jack Campbell has had the expected ups and downs, but he has started the last five games.
So if it's more playing time Leonard wants, at least immediately without an injury to someone, it's not coming with the Lions. So when he can pick his landing spot as a free agent, on the assumption he clears waivers, there will be better fits in that regard.
There's a fair amount of sentiment out there suggesting the Lions should have interest in Leonard if they have a chance at signing him, and that he'd be a nice fit. And there's definitely something to it.
But, whether by someone with the cap space to do it claiming him off waivers or him being able to pick his next team, the Lions are unlikely to end up landing Leonard.