It was no secret that what Shaq Leonard was being paid did not match the production on the field. Many expected the Indianapolis Colts to release Leonard after the season. But why release him now?
Saving $6.11M this season does what exactly? It’s not like the Colts are going to sign anyone of significance at this point in the season. There isn’t a top corner available to help the secondary. There isn’t a top wide receiver available to help your quarterback. There was an out after this season that leaves $8M in dead cap towards next season, but after that? No dead cap.
There are a few explanations as to why the Colts elected to make this decision now.
1. Shane Steichen Accountability Factor
Earlier this season the Colts benched Darrell Baker Jr. after an underwhelming performance. Earlier in the season the Colts cut Deion Jackson after fumbles and lack of efficiency as a running back. Now the Colts have cut one of the four players on the side of Lucas Oil Stadium.
2. E.J. Speed
Whether it was last season when he was filling in for Leonard, or rotating in and out this year with Leonard, Speed has made more impactful plays. In the overtime Baltimore win, it was Speed prevented Lamar Jackson from connecting with Zay Flowers on fourth down before Matt Gay won the game for Indianapolis. That’s one more impactful play that Leonard simply hasn’t made.
3. Opportunities For Other Players
Grant Stuard with his flowing hair and Segun Olubi were two players that flashed for the Colts in preseason with their ability to tackle in the open field. Stuard was an acquisition Chris Ballard made last year with Tampa Bay primarily to play special teams. Olubi was on the practice squad for San Francisco last year before coming to Indianapolis late last year. He had his first career interception late in the fourth quarter against Panthers to help seal the win.
ESPN.com’s Stephen Holder joined Query & Company Tuesday afternoon with Jake Query & Brendan King to explain how the Colts came to this decision.
“Every indication that I have is that this is a pure football position. It has nothing to do with his outspokenness. It wasn’t about money. It was to some extent, but that’s really not the foremost issue here. To be completely honest, they have better options at that position right now. I’m still shocked that they did it now.” Holder stated.
Other topics that Holder discussed on the show were:
- What happens with Leonard’s contract if he is claimed or unclaimed
- If he will play another snap in the NFL this season
To listen to Jake Query and Jimmy Cook’s conversation with Stephen Holder, download the podcast containing the conversation below! You can always listen to the Query & Company from 12pm-3pm on 93.5/107.5 The Fan. You can also watch and interact with the show by going to the 107.5 The Fan YouTube Channel.
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