Former Riders’ DL A.C. Leonard agrees to terms with Edmonton Elks

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

Free agent defensive lineman A.C. Leonard has agreed to terms on a contract with the Edmonton Elks, per league sources.

The 31-year-old was released by the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Tuesday one day before he was scheduled to collect a $40,000 off-season roster bonus.

The six-foot-two, 250-pound defender made 33 defensive tackles, three sacks, and one forced fumble over 13 games with the Riders this past season. It was a disappointing season for the edge rusher as he was coming off a year in which he led the CFL with 11 sacks over a shortened 14-game campaign.

Leonard broke into the CFL as a member of the B.C. Lions in 2015 where he played tight end. He joined the Riders in 2016 and was converted to defensive end where he made 33 defensive tackles, two special teams tackles, and five sacks over the course of the season. He returned to the club the following year and recorded another 33 defensive tackles, five sacks, and one forced fumble before opting to explore free agency.

The native of Palatka, Fla. signed with the Ottawa Redblacks in February 2018 and played 17 games with the club that year. He recorded 49 defensive tackles, one special teams tackle, and six sacks but was not retained by the club despite being named an East Division all-star. He returned to Saskatchewan as a free agent in 2019 and set a new career highs with nine sacks and three forced fumbles along with 44 defensive tackles.

Leonard has now been reunited with Chris Jones, who was the head coach and general manager in Saskatchewan when Leonard first joined the team in 2016. Jones was hired as the head coach and general manager of the Edmonton Elks in December 2021 and led the team to a 4-14 record this past season.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.