Colts waive All-Pro LB Shaquille Leonard in surprise move - ESPN
INDIANAPOLIS — In a stunning move, Colts All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard was waived by the team Tuesday, a decision prompted by his declining performance after recent injuries.
Leonard, who returned to the lineup this season after two back surgeries in 2022 to correct nerve issues, was getting inconsistent playing time as he tried to play his way into form. His uneven performance and ongoing recovery prompted coaches to remove him from the lineup on third downs and had him, at times, splitting earlier snaps with E.J. Speed — decisions that did not sit well with Leonard.
In two separate media availabilities, Leonard, 28, complained at length about his usage. After being told he would split reps on early downs, Leonard said, «It sucked hearing that. You're already not playing on third [down], you're taking the reps on second down too? So, it's very heartbreaking to get that but it is what it is.»
But there were indications the Colts were underwhelmed by Leonard's recent performance. Coaches said publicly they were looking for more splash plays from Leonard. They also had been seeking ways to get Speed on the field. And in the absence of middle linebacker Zaire Franklin in a recent game against Carolina, Leonard did not see an increase in playing time, with the Colts instead turning to backup Segun Olubi to fill the role.
It all led to Tuesday's abrupt decision.
«These past 6 years have been nothing but incredible!» Leonard wrote in a message posted on social media. «Through the good times and bad time, y'all stood by my side. I apologize for not bringing that trophy back to the 317. The energy at Lucas Oil [Stadium] has been nothing but amazing and I thank you for every memory.»
Indy, I thank you