In recent weeks, it’s started to seem like the Indianapolis Colts were headed towards a divorce with star linebacker Shaquille Leonard. Everyone assumed the move would happen during the offseason, but Indianapolis didn’t feel the need to wait. On Tuesday, the Colts announced that the were releasing Leonard.
Leonard, who made three Pro Bowls and four All-Pro teams in his first four seasons, immediately posted a message to social media, thanking Indianapolis. The veteran linebacker thanked the community for accepting him and his family and standing by his side. He apologized for not bringing a Super Bowl to the city and wished the Colts nothing but the best.
Team owner Jim Irsay also took to social media with a statement if his own. In a post that he captioned, “tough business,” Irsay spoke about the player that Leonard was on the field and the man that he was off of it. He ultimately thanked Leonard for his contributions and wished him the best with whatever is next.
What's next for Shaquille Leonard?
The veteran linebacker will now head to waivers where the other 31 teams will have the opportunity to claim him. Leonard is one of the highest-paid linebackers in all of football, so claiming him off waivers would also claim his contract. He’s owed $6.11 million for the rest of the season, $16.1 million in 2024, $19 million in 2025, and $19.6 million in 2026. Because of this hefty contract, the expectation is that he’ll clear waivers and becom a free agent.
While the timing of this move definitely shocked the NFL world, it is a situation that has been bubbling for a while, picking up steam in recent weeks. Since returning from an injury-riddled 2022 season, Leonard has struggled to find his groove with the Colts this season. He has been very vocal about his limited snaps and that’s why everyone assumed the Colts would release him in the offseason.
On the year, Leonard has played in nine games, recording 65 tackles, and two for a loss. However, he hasn’t forced any of his trademark turnovers. He’ll try doing that with his next team, which will likely be a contender if Leonard does clear waivers.