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Eagles reach agreement with Shaq Leonard, beating out the Cowboys to filling a need at linebacker

Josh Tolentino, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Football

The Eagles on Monday afternoon agreed to sign former Colts four-time All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard.

Leonard’s decision to reunite with coach Nick Sirianni in Philadelphia comes after he also visited with the Dallas Cowboys last week. Leonard was waived by the Colts on Nov. 21. He has logged 65 tackles, including two tackles for loss, over nine games this season.

Leonard is expected to provide the Eagles with immediate reinforcements at off-ball linebacker, one of the team’s biggest weak links as displayed during the Eagles’ 42-19 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

Quarterback Brock Purdy, who threw for 314 passing yards and four touchdowns, favored targeting the middle of the field, where the Eagles deployed Nicholas Morrow and Christian Elliss at linebacker. According to Pro Football Focus, Morrow allowed 175 yards across six catches on eight targets with 151 yards occurring after the catch. Elliss gave up two receptions on three targets for 33 yards.

The Eagles have been unstable at the position for a majority of the season under first-year linebackers coach D.J. Eliot. Starter Nakobe Dean is currently on injured reserve for the second time this season with a Lisfranc injury, while Zach Cunningham missed the 49ers game with a hamstring injury.

 

Leonard, 28, passed his physical with the Eagles, according to a league source. However, he has dealt with an assortment of injuries over the past couple of years that have affected his performance and availability. He underwent back surgery to repair a nerve injury ahead of the 2022 season, and after missing the first three games, Leonard suffered a concussion and fractured nose during his season debut. He then had another back surgery that prematurely ended his season.

“He was a great teammate, and I really enjoyed being around him,” Sirianni said last week of Leonard. “I still have a relationship with him. I think he’s a great person. Great teammate, and like I said, the main thing was the ball and the length that comes to mind with that.”

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