The Detroit Lions might be the best place for free agent All-Pro Shaquille Leonard to get one last shot in the NFL


It wasn’t long ago when linebacker Shaquille Leonard was one of the best defensive players in the entire NFL. He won the Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 2018 and then followed that up with four All-Pro seasons for the Colts. Then a concussion and back surgery in 2022 ended that elite run. 

Leonard returned in 2023, but the Colts opted to limit his snaps and there began to be some frustration between Leonard and Indianapolis and the Colts made the hard choice to let him go. The Eagles wound up bringing him in and he played fairly well, but not up to the play he once demonstrated. 

With training camp approaching for all teams, now is the time in which a player like Leonard would get a shot to make a roster. The Lions are an interesting place for him to try to get that shot. 

There’s some ties to the coaching staff. Assistant head coach Scottie Montgomery was on the Colts coaching staff in 2021 and 2022. But it’s the guys that Leonard hasn’t been with that could help him out. 

Defensive line coach Terrell Williams and linebackers coach Kelvin Shepherd could help him out. He doesn’t have the speed to play weakside linebacker anymore and the Lions don’t need him there, but there could be use for Leonard as a pass rusher. He has some moves and we’ve seen him be very good in that area in the past. 

It’s a bit of a project, but we know Leonard has talent still and he’s still in his 20’s. He’s going to need to be willing to make some changes to his play style and he’s going to have to be willing to play for less money if he hopes to find a spot. 

This is the luxury that the Lions currently have. They’re a good enough team to where they can try some things and if they don’t work out, they have a good enough linebacker and defensive line room that it’s not a hit at all. 

If there’s something still there for Leonard, there’s no shame in seeing if it can be there for the Lions. 

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