HomeDa Birds NewsShaq Leonard explains decision to join Eagles instead of Cowboys

Shaq Leonard explains decision to join Eagles instead of Cowboys

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Shaq Leonard


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New Eagles LB Shaquille Leonard could make his debut Week 14.

After multiple teams showed interest in him, veteran linebacker Shaquille Leonard chose to sign a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.

The other team in the mix for Leonard’s talents was the Eagles’ NFC East rival, the Dallas Cowboys, who Leonard also visited prior to making his decision. Leonard, who was surprisingly released by his former team, the Indianapolis Colts, on November 21, should provide immediate help to a linebacking group that has been banged up and inconsistent.

Now that the deal is done, we’re learning more about why the three-time All-Pro LB chose Philly. Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni served as offensive coordinator for the Colts from 2018-2020, and after going up against Sirianni on the other side of the ball for years, he and Leonard grew close.

“Nick and I worked together in Indy,” Leonard told a room full of reporters. “Nick’s a great coach, great competitor. We had a bond. … Just competing against each other day in and day out.”


Jerry Jones Comments on Shaq Leonard Choosing Eagles Over Cowboys

Cowboys general manager and owner Jerry Jones was also asked about his team’s meeting with Leonard, and Jones revealed there was never a discussion about money or contracts.

“There was absolutely never any money mentioned, I met with him, had lunch with him and had a good visit with him, but there was never a financial issue at all,” Jones said about his meeting with Leonard on December 5, via 105.3 The Fan..

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“So, that wasn’t the case in any way, he apparently wanted to go where he thought he had the best chance. I certainly recognize and honor his decision there. It never was an issue for us regarding our confidence that we’ve got in our linebackers,” Jones added.

For his part, though, Leonard says his choosing the Eagles didn’t have near as much to do with potential playing time as it did familiarity with Sirianni.

“I wanted to go somewhere that would fit me and that the coach knew who I was as a person and as a player,” Leonard said.


Shaq Leonard Had Disappointing Start to His 2023 Season

Leonard was limited to three games in 2022, largely due to a back injury, although he also suffered a concussion and a broken nose in what turned out to be an injury-plagued season.

After missing so much time last year, it has taken the 28-year-old LB a bit to get back into the swing of things this season. The hope is that he can still show flashes of the player he was back in 2018, when he won Defensive Rookie of the Year.

In nine starts with the Colts this season, Leonard amassed 65 total tackles (two for loss). Per PFF, the veteran linebacker has allowed 17 receptions on 22 targets (no TDs) in coverage.

His last complete season was in 2021, when he was named a first-team All-Pro. That year, Leonard finished with 122 total tackles (four for loss), four interceptions and a league-leading eight forced fumbles.

Leonard will likely make his debut with the Eagles Week 14, when they take on — wait for it — the Cowboys.

 

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