In the arms race atop the NFC East, score one for the Philadelphia Eagles.
The team, fresh off of its Week 13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, has agreed to terms on a one-year contract with former Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard, whom Indianapolis released on Nov. 21. The Eagles announced the move on their social media accounts.
The Eagles (10-2) still have the best record in the NFC despite their loss to the 49ers, who are one of three teams in the conference with a 9-3 record. Another of those teams, the NFC East-rival Dallas Cowboys, are next up on Philadelphia's schedule, though it's unclear how much Leonard will be able to contribute as he acclimates to the team.
The Cowboys were the other free agent visit that Leonard took last week.
Leonard, 28, is a three-time All-Pro and the 2018 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year and has some ties to Philadelphia. Eagles coach Nick Sirianni was the offensive coordinator for the Colts from 2018 through 2020, while Leonard was a fixture in Indianapolis.
"He made a lot of plays, that's for sure," Sirianni said last week of Leonard. "He had a knack for the football and how to get the football. What I remember is just how, as an offensive coordinator, how hard he was to throw around. His length was comparable to Jim Boeheim's (former college head basketball coach) 2-3 zone at Syracuse. He's going to make a play in the passing lane.
We've agreed to terms on a one-year deal with LB Shaquille Leonard. pic.twitter.com/WjCsPDHRVQ
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) December 4, 2023
"He was a great teammate and I really enjoyed being around him. I still have a relationship with him. I think he is a great person, great teammate, and like I said, the main thing was the ball and the length that come to mind with that."
In his career, Leonard has combined for 614 tackles, 15 sacks, 32 tackles for loss, 12 interceptions and 17 forced fumbles in 70 games.
He joins a linebacker group that has faced injuries to Nakobe Dean (foot) and Zach Cunningham (hamstring). The Eagles can use the help on defense, as they rank 23rd in the NFL in total defense, allowing 350.6 yards per game. Philadelphia also ranks last in defensive third down efficiency (47.27%) and 30th in passing defense (260.3 yards allowed per game).
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Shaquille Leonard, Philadelphia Eagles agree to one-year contract