June 25, 2024

Shaquille Leonard Opens Up on Why He Passed on Cowboys

Linebacker Shaquille Leonard passed on joining the Dallas Cowboys by instead signing with their rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles.

While speaking to reporters before his first practice with the Eagles on Wednesday, December 6, Leonard explained why he decided to sign with Philadelphia over Dallas.

Via Josh Tolentino of The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Report: Former Colts LB Shaq Leonard to meet with Cowboys, Eagles

“Nick [Sirianni] and I were together in Indy, Nick is a great coach, great competitor,” said Leonard. “I wanted to go somewhere that fit me, to a coach who knew who I was as a person and as a player.”

Shaq Leonard Spent 3 Years With Nick Sirianni in Indianapolis

Leonard joined the Indianapolis Colts in 2018 when Nick Sirianni joined the franchise as an offensive coordinator. Sirianni would spend the next three seasons in Indianapolis as Leonard established himself as one of the top defensive players in the league. During that time frame, Leonard was named to three consecutive Pro Bowls, three All-Pro selections and won the Defensive Rookie of the Year.

In addition to his accolades, Leonard also led the the NFL in tackles during his rookie season and notched 15 sacks, seven interceptions and nine forced fumbles with four fumble recoveries during his first three seasons.

Leonard became known as one of the top playmaking defensive players in the league. However, Leonard’s frequency of producing those same type of splash plays declined over the past two seasons in Indianapolis, leading to an unhappy player and his eventual release.

Indianapolis Colts' Shaquille Leonard cleared concussion protocol

The 28-year-old linebacker spoke to Eagles reporters regarding his sudden release from Indianapolis a couple weeks prior.

Via Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

“Of course I was stunned,” said Leonard. “But this is a business and I respect their decision to move forward. I wish them nothing but the best. Of course, it’s not just proving to Indy that I can still play. I want to prove to myself that I still can play.”

Jerry Jones Comments on Shaquille Leonard’s Decision

As the Cowboys prepare to host the Eagles in a big-time Week 14 matchup, team owner Jerry Jones addressed Leonard’s decision to sign with Philadelphia.

“We very easily could see him out here against us Sunday,” Jones said Tuesday, December 5, on 105.3 The Fan. “I just have to almost step back when I think about man, these are the times we’re in when a player like that could be available and pick his team — which he can and does — and be on the field within three or four days. It’s just a unique period of time. Not in any way — if I sound like I’m complaining, I’m not — but that’s just unique to me to think he can hit the ground running and be out there playing against us Sunday.”

Leonard visited with the Cowboys on Nov. 28 before visiting with the Eagles later on.

Jones stresses that the financial aspect was not a factor in Leonard’s decision to sign with Philadelphia.

“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. “So, that wasn’t the case in any way, he apparently wanted to go where he thought he had the best chance.

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