Last Sunday, the Arizona Cardinals lost linebacker Kyzir White to a season-ending biceps injury. Now, three days later, an outstanding candidate to replace the Redbirds' defensive leader has suddenly emerged on the free-agent market.
On Tuesday, star linebacker Shaquille Leonard was released by the Indianapolis Colts. The 2018 second-round draft pick passed through the waiver process without being claimed, and is now up for grabs. Would Cards general manager Monti Ossenfort have any interest in adding the talented Leonard to the franchise's talent-starved defense?
All throughout the year, Arizona fans have watched the front office bring bargain-basement free agents to the desert. Not surprisingly, the team has limped to a 2-9 record through the 2023 campaign's first 11 weeks. The time has come for Ossenfort and company to start adding players to the mix who can actually help turn "Big Red" into a winning squad.
Star linebacker could be a part of the Arizona Cardinals plan going forward
Many NFL experts were surprised that the lowly Colts elected to part ways with the 28-year-old Leonard. Apparently, the former South Carolina State University product was not happy about his diminished playing time. Leonard requested a sit-down with the team's brass to discuss his future with the club, but Indy GM Chris Ballard obviously wasn't interested in meeting with the 6 foot 2, 230 pounder.
Leonard freely admits that he's not the player he once was, thanks to the two back surgeries he underwent to correct a nerve issue. It was a significant setback that limited the veteran to just three appearances in 2022. However, Leonard has racked up a respectable 65 tackles for Indianapolis this fall, and is slowly but surely working his way back into Pro Bowl form.
Jonathan Gannon spent three seasons (2018-20) as a defensive assistant with the Colts, so the Cardinals head coach is well aware of what Leonard can do. In addition, Arizona's linebacking corps took a huge hit with the loss of White. Maybe the idea of Leonard coming to the "Valley of the Sun" isn't outlandish as many would think.
(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference)