Colts Release Linebacker Shaquille Leonard: Breaking News

“The Maniac’s electrifying energy on the field will forever be etched in the hearts of Colts Nation, as he made his mark with every tackle, interception, punchout, and fumble recovery,” expressed Colts Owner and CEO Jim Irsay. “Off the field, he has been a true leader, serving and supporting numerous families in both his hometown and the Indianapolis community. Shaq’s contributions to our team are deeply appreciated, and we extend our best wishes to him and his wonderful family for the future.”

Leonard, a three-time first-team AP All-Pro, three-time Pro Bowler, and 2018 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year, underwent two procedures in 2022 to address a nerve issue, which limited his appearances to just three games last season. Despite returning for the 2023 season, he primarily played on first and second downs, starting nine of the Colts’ 10 games.

In 2023, Leonard was on the field for nearly 70 percent of the Colts’ defensive snaps, a decrease from his pre-surgery involvement of over 95 percent.

Selected by the Colts as the No. 36 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the South Carolina State product quickly made his mark on the team. In his rookie year, Leonard set a Colts record with 163 tackles, along with two interceptions, four forced fumbles, 12 tackles for a loss, and seven sacks. He continued to excel, leading the NFL with eight forced fumbles in 2021, and earning five interceptions in 2019.

“Shaq’s competitive spirit and undeniable talent have made him a beloved figure since his rookie year in 2018,” remarked general manager Chris Ballard. “We are immensely thankful for his contributions to both the team and the city of Indianapolis over the last six years. He will always be valued here as a member of the Horseshoe.”

During his third AP All-Pro nod in 2021, Leonard faced ongoing ankle pain, often humorously describing his ankle as “attached” when asked about it. After undergoing two surgeries, he managed to play in nine games in 2023, where he accumulated 65 tackles and two tackles for a loss.

“I’m grateful for the passion and energy that Shaq brought to our team every day,” expressed head coach Shane Steichen. “He’s a true competitor, a leader, and has earned the respect of all his teammates. I wish him nothing but the best for his future.”

In addition to his on-field achievements, Leonard was the Colts’ 2022 Walter Payton Man of the Year and Ed Block Courage Award nominee.


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