NOVEMBER 28: If Leonard’s Cowboys summit does not produce a deal, he “should be visiting” with the Eagles in the next few days, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports. While nothing is firmly on the books yet for Philadelphia, as Dianna Russini of The Athletic adds, it would come as no surprise if the Eagles moved quickly to try and land Leonard. Russini adds that other teams remain in contact with his camp, meaning the two NFC East rivals could still have outside competition to finalize an agreement.
NOVEMBER 27: The Cowboys are the team which has been most closely linked to linebacker Shaquille Leonard. The high-profile free agent has other suitors, though, including another NFC East power.
The Eagles were initially named as a team to watch for Leonard, along with the Cowboys. Dallas has since lined up a visit with the former All-Pro, meaning a decision on his future could be coming in the near future. Philadelphia’s interest has been somewhat tepid so far, but that could be changing soon. The Eagles now have “increasing interest” in Leonard, Josina Anderson of CBS Sports reports.
The main reason for the change in thinking on the part of the NFC leaders is tied not to the 28-year-old’s potential but rather the injury status of Zach Cunningham, Anderson notes. The latter suffered a hamstring injury in yesterday’s overtime win, and the fact interest in a replacement has gained steam is certainly not a good sign for his short-term outlook. Cunningham has been a mainstay in the second level of Philadelphia’s second level, logging an 83% snap share and totaling 71 tackles.
Missing the former Texan and Titan for any length of time would thus deal a signficant blow to the Eagles’ defense. Leonard would represent a notable addition under any circumstances, but a starting spot potentially being available upon signing could sway his decision-making process. The three-time All-Pro’s displeasure with his workload this season played a role in the Colts’ decision to move on from him. That has left Leonard on the open market with a shortlist of interested suitors.
The Cowboys and Eagles are among them, but the Vikings and Broncos have also been reported as having Leonard on their radar. The former Defensive Rookie of the Year has no need to rush into a decision, but having a Cowboys visit on the books will likely accelerate the process by which he finds a new home. He would add at least a highly experienced depth option at the LB spot for any acquiring team, and it would come as little surprise if he elected to join Philadelphia since the reigning NFC champions are again poised for a deep postseason run.
The 10-1 Eagles sit near the bottom of the NFL in cap space with just over $2.4MM in available funds. While that could put them at a disadvantage in a potential bidding war, Philadelphia will remain a team to watch closely in the coming days with respect to Leonard as well as Cunningham’s injury status.