Our guess is that the Dallas Cowboys are thrilled with the performances of linebackers Damone Clark and Markquese Bell. How could they not be?
Whether they're thrilled with the positions' depth is a different story, so the calls for them to sign Shaquille Leonard will only grow louder. Sure enough, that depth was swiftly tested in the first quarter on Thanksgiving when Bell, a budding second-year pro, went down with an undisclosed injury.
Bell was able to return to the game after a quick absence, but his injury understandably forced Cowboys fans into a collective state of panic about the team's LB depth, or lack thereof. The general reaction? Sign Shaquille Leonard and don't think twice.
Well, fans and the front office are in lockstep, as multiple Cowboys insiders confirmed the team's interested in the newly-minted free agent.
Cowboys Rumors: Dallas interested in signing LB Shaquille Leonard
David Moore of the Dallas Morning News is as reliable as they come. As are longtime Cowboys reporter Ed Werder of ESPN and 105.3 The Fan's Bryan Broaddus, a former Dallas scout who seemingly has multiple sources within the building.
These reports are exciting and relieving all at the same time, but they don't mean anything if the Cowboys don't sign Leonard.
The Colts sent shockwaves around the NFL this week when they released Leonard after five seasons. A three-time All-Pro and former Defensive Rookie of the Year, Leonard's playing time and production plummeted this year after he underwent multiple surgeries to address a back/nerve issue.
Now healthy, Leonard is free to sign with any team. Werder noted that the Eagles (!) and Broncos are among the teams interested in the 28-year-old. That -- plus Dallas' sheer need for more proven linebackers behind Clark and Bell after Leighton Vander Esch's season-ending injury -- should be all the incentive Jerry Jones needs to get this done.
All told, it shouldn't take a Bell injury scare to light a proverbial fire under the Cowboys. While Bell and Clark have impressed in the wake of Vander Esch's injury, Dallas plays with fire each and every week they don't sign another LB.
While Leonard's athleticism has declined post-surgery, he's two years removed from being a first-team All-Pro after he posted 122 tackles, eight forced fumbles, four interceptions and eight passes defended.
If Jones don't recognize the urgency to bring in Leonard, perhaps Leonard's former Colts teammates Stephon Gilmore and Malik Hooker will be in the owner's ear.