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The Colts release of Shaquille Leonard on Tuesday is something that would have once seemed impossible.  

The 3-time first team All-Pro linebacker was the heart and soul of the Colts defense from the moment he was drafted by Indianapolis in 2018. He was a turnover and tackling machine, at times single-handedly willing the Colts to victory with a perfectly timed forced fumble or interception, or a game saving tackle on 3rd or 4th down. He was handsomely rewarded in 2021 with a five-year, $99.25 million contract which included $52.5 million guaranteed. 

Now he’s gone, unceremoniously released in the middle of the season, following perhaps the worst game of his career against the New England Patriots in Germany.  

Leonard’s career with the Colts will join the career of Bob Sanders as one of the great “What-If?” scenarios. He began on a Hall of Fame trajectory, before injuries robbed him of his explosiveness and game wrecking abilities. Whether he can regain those traits is unknown; what is certain is that he won’t do it in a Colts uniform. 

The move itself isn’t shocking. Leonard was being paid like an All-Pro linebacker, and clearly wasn’t playing like it anymore. A divorce between Leonard and the Colts at the end of the season seemed like an ever-increasing likelihood with each passing game. To see it done now, in the middle of the season, on a random Tuesday, is what is so surprising.  

During Tuesday’s edition of The Ride With JMV, Zak Keefer of The Athletic joined the show, and gave his thoughts on the Colts release of Shaquille Leonard. 

“He’s just not the same player right now. They see it, you see it, everybody out there watching sees it. You saw the game in Germany, I mean this guy’s not getting snaps in favor of Segun Olubi, whoever the heck that is right? I mean this is a guy you’re paying $20 million a year roughly over the next 5 years? He’s not a $20 million linebacker anymore.” 

JMV also spoke to longtime Colts columnist Bob Kravitz, who can be found on about the release of Leonard. Bob gave his thoughts on if the timing of the release was shocking. 

“I think everybody knew it was going to happen at the end of the season. I mean the production just wasn’t up to the standard of the paycheck, but for it to happen now, yeah it was most certainly out of left field.” 

Bob also spoke about if this is another sign of a new era of accountability for the Colts under Shane Steichen. 

“The one thing about Bill Belichick is he never lets sentimentality get in the way, and I thought over the years, whether it was Adam Vinatieri or whomever that they’ve stuck with people that they didn’t need to stick with. They rarely took a hard line, and yeah I do think this, you know, I think in large part this is Shane Steichen’s ‘no messing around’ influence on this franchise.” 

Listen to JMV’s full conversation with Zak, Bob and more down below, and tune into The Ride With JMV weekdays from 3-6pm on 93.5/107.5 The Fan! 

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