The Vikings Should Target a New, Unexpected Free Agent

Indianapolis Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard (53) talks to game official Grantis Bell on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, before facing the New Orleans Saints at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Earlier in the week, the Indianapolis Colts made a very unexpected decision to waive former All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard.

In the aftermath of the release, Dianna Russini of The Athletic reported that the Minnesota Vikings are one of the teams expressing interest in signing the 28-year-old linebacker. Another example of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah always trying to find ways to improve his roster and leaving no stone unturned.

The Vikings Should Target a New, Unexpected Free Agent

The Vikings Should Target a New, Unexpected Free Agent
Oct 15, 2023; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Indianapolis Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard (53) against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports

Russini notes: “Leonard spent the last few seasons in Indy after signing a five-year, $98.25 million contract extension in 2021, but then injuries held him back. Now teams still in contention like the EaglesCowboysVikings and others are ‘collecting information’ on him. A league source said Leonard may take his time making a decision.”

With Jordan Hicks heading to IR, the Vikings have a bit of a shortage at the linebacker spot. They did add Anthony Barr last week, but other than Ivan Pace, Minnesota doesn’t have much of a starting option at the position.

Hicks had been doing a great job for the Vikings this year, and he was a big reason for their recent success on the defensive side of the ball.

Oct 1, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Jordan Hicks (58) reacts in the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Leonard would be a strong option for a couple reasons. The linebacker is still young at 28, and despite a few injuries during recent seasons, he should have some productive football in front of him. He did miss all but three games last year, but he started nine games for the Colts this season.

He also had a very strong start to his career, indicating that he has the ceiling of one of the best linebackers in the league. Leonard’s rookie season of 2018 resulted in 163 tackles, including 12 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks, while he also put together 8 passes defended, a pair of interceptions, and 4 forced fumbles.

Oct 15, 2023; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Indianapolis Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard (53) before the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports

By adding Leonard, the Vikings would also prevent other NFC contenders from grabbing him like the Eagles and Cowboys. Both teams have had some lackluster play from their linebackers this season, so an addition like Leonard could further propel them forward toward their quests for a Super Bowl.

The Vikings have $7.488 million in cap space, ranking 10th in the league, according to Over the Cap.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.

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