Eagles Rumors

Zach Ertz Clears Waivers; Eagles Expected To Pursue Reunion

No one claimed Zach Ertz‘s Cardinals-constructed contract on waivers before Friday’s deadline, per ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter, leading the veteran tight end to free agency. Ertz can now resume his goal of landing with a contender.

A familiar team is expected to be interested. The Eagles are believed to be prepared to pursue an Ertz reunion, Schefter adds. Ertz spent nine seasons in Philadelphia, being dealt to Arizona during the 2021 campaign. With Dallas Goedert still out after arm surgery, the Eagles do not have much in the way of depth behind their starter.

With Ertz spending months in Nick Sirianni‘s offensive system, the Eagles make sense as a landing spot. So do the Ravens, who lost Mark Andrews to what is likely a season-ending ankle injury. The Ravens, Chiefs and Bills also loom as possible Ertz options, according to Schefter. Extensive interest exists, per Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz, who adds Ertz should have a new team soon.

Ertz’s Eagles ending involved a contract dispute. The veteran had aimed for a deal in the range of the pacts given to Travis Kelce and George Kittle, who each signed extensions in 2020. The Eagles refused to move Ertz into that NFL salary bracket but then gave Goedert a deal in that range. Goedert’s four-year, $59MM extension came to pass barely a month after the Eagles sent Ertz to the Cardinals in exchange for a fifth-round pick and cornerback Tay Gowan.

This value gap between Ertz and the Eagles came about in 2020, and the team gave the disgruntled tight end permission to find a trade partner during the 2021 offseason. Ertz did not show for Philly’s offseason program. Given the turbulence that emerged toward the end of Ertz’s Eagles stay, it would certainly be interesting if the sides huddled up about a reunion two years later.

Philadelphia drafted Ertz in the 2013 third round, the team’s first draft under Chip Kelly. GM Howie Roseman was in place when the team drafted the Stanford product and, after a 2015 demotion as Kelly enjoyed an eventful year calling the personnel shots, when the team extended ascending tight end during the 2016 offseason. The Eagles gave Ertz a five-year, $42.5MM extension in January 2016. That deal was in line with upper-echelon TE contracts at the time, with the Patriots’ 2012 Rob Gronkowski extension effectively freezing the market for several years. With Kelce and Kittle moving the AAV bar past $14MM per year in 2020, Ertz became dissatisfied with his terms.

The Eagles have listed Goedert as doubtful for their Week 13 49ers matchup. They rolled out an imposing Ertz-Goedert duo for three-plus seasons, but the younger player has become one of the NFL’s top tight ends since the Eagles made the Ertz trade. Behind Goedert, however, the 10-1 team has little of note. Jack Stoll‘s 27 receiving yards sit second among Philly tight ends. The Eagles have not used August trade acquisition Albert Okwuegbunam much.

While an Ertz Pennsylvania comeback would fill a need for the Super Bowl contender, the Eagles have only $2.7MM in cap space. An Ertz pact likely would not cost much, given his recent run of injuries and the calendar flipping to December. Fit may play the lead role here. Cap space-wise, however, the Chiefs also check in at $2.7MM. The Bills hold $1.5MM, while the Ravens are at $6.4MM.

The Eagles fired Andy Reid three months before drafting Ertz, but with the Chiefs’ receiving corps not moving the needle much this season, a veteran to work alongside Kelce would make sense. A Baltimore fit would be more logical, with Andrews undergoing ankle surgery to address his recent injury. Andrews looms as a long shot to return in the event of a deep Ravens playoff run. Once a presumptive Ertz suitor, the Bills have Dawson Knox moving closer to a return. Since the 2021 offseason when Ertz was available, Buffalo extended Knox and drafted Dalton Kincaid in this year’s first round.

Ertz suffered a torn ACL in November 2022, and while he was back on the field for Week 1 of this season, the Cardinals’ shift to a rebuild made him one of the veterans who did not seem to fit any longer. He ended up on Arizona’s IR due to a quad injury, missing the past five weeks. For the season, Ertz has just 27 receptions for 187 yards and one touchdown. He does hold the Cardinals’ Arizona-years record for yards in a season by a tight end, with 574, and posted five straight 800-plus-yard seasons from 2015-19 in Philly. Ertz’s 579 receptions as an Eagle are also just 10 shy of Hall of Famer Harold Carmichael‘s franchise record.

Updated 2024 NFL Draft Order

With Week 13 underway, the picture at the top of the NFL draft board continues to become clearer. Plenty is yet to be determined with respect to the top of the order, however.

The Panthers’ ongoing struggles led to Frank Reich‘s firing, but the Bears own Carolina’s top pick this year due to the 2023 swap which landed Bryce Young via the No. 1 selection. Chicago being able to have the top pick once again – coupled with their own selection landing in the top-10 – would make the Bears a team to watch closely come April. The race for the top two or three slots (and, as such, the ability to draft QBs Caleb Williams and Drake Maye, along with wideout Marvin Harrison Jr.) will also be a key late-season storyline for the Cardinals and Patriots.

The Commanders have lost three straight games, overshadowing a promising season from first-year starter Sam Howell. After deciding to move on from defensive ends Chase Young and Montez Sweat at the trade deadline, the team’s defense has continued to struggle. DC Jack Del Rio is out as a result, and head coach Ron Rivera‘s position is not believed to be on strong footing. A top-five pick could make the job in Washington more attractive presuming a opening arises this offseason.

For non-playoff teams, the draft order will be determined by the inverted 2024 standings — plus a series of tiebreakers, starting with strength of schedule — with playoff squads being slotted by their postseason outcome and regular-season record. Here is an updated look at the current draft order:

  1. Chicago Bears (via Panthers)
  2. Arizona Cardinals: 2-10
  3. New England Patriots: 2-9
  4. Chicago Bears: 4-8
  5. Washington Commanders: 4-8
  6. New York Giants: 4-8
  7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 4-7
  8. New York Jets: 4-7
  9. Los Angeles Chargers: 4-7
  10. Tennessee Titans: 4-7
  11. Las Vegas Raiders: 5-7
  12. New Orleans Saints: 5-6
  13. Green Bay Packers: 5-6
  14. Los Angeles Rams: 5-6
  15. Cincinnati Bengals: 5-6
  16. Buffalo Bills: 6-6
  17. Arizona Cardinals (via Texans)
  18. Denver Broncos: 6-5
  19. Atlanta Falcons: 5-6
  20. Minnesota Vikings: 6-6
  21. Seattle Seahawks: 6-6
  22. Indianapolis Colts: 6-5
  23. Pittsburgh Steelers: 7-4
  24. Houston Texans (via Browns)
  25. Miami Dolphins: 8-3
  26. Detroit Lions: 8-3
  27. Jacksonville Jaguars: 8-3
  28. Dallas Cowboys: 9-3
  29. Kansas City Chiefs: 8-3
  30. San Francisco 49ers: 8-3
  31. Baltimore Ravens: 9-3
  32. Philadelphia Eagles: 10-1

Eagles LB Zach Cunningham Could Be Sidelined Multiple Weeks

Zach Cunningham could be sidelined multiple weeks while dealing with a hamstring strain. According to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Eagles linebacker is expected to miss Sunday’s game against the 49ers, and Cunningham could be sidelined beyond that game.

[RELATED: Eagles Meet With Shaquille Leonard]

Cunningham’s two-year stint with the Titans came to an end in February when he was released by the team. He waited until early August to ink his next deal, as the linebacker joined the Eagles. The 29-year-old has been a productive member of Philly’s defense in 2023, collecting 71 tackles in 11 games (nine starts). Pro Football Focus graded him 41st among 79 qualifying linebackers, and the site gave him a top-25 positional grade in pass coverage.

Cunningham suffered his injury in the second half of the Eagles’ overtime win over the Bills last Sunday. The veteran ended up appearing in a season-low 58 percent of his team’s defensive snaps.

Christian Elliss ended up replacing Cunningham on Sunday, with the journeyman garnering his most defensive snaps since Week 1. With Nakobe Dean also recently going down with an injury, the Eagles are left with Nicholas Morrow as their only remaining full-time linebacker.

That probably explains why the Eagles hosted veteran Shaquille Leonard the other day. The linebacker underwent a physical and left Philadelphia without signing a contract, and he’s reportedly taking the next few days to weigh his options.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 11/30/23

Today’s practice squad transactions:

Arizona Cardinals

Carolina Panthers

Houston Texans

Kansas City Chiefs

New England Patriots

  • Released: WR Mathew Sexton

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/30/23

Today’s minor moves:

Carolina Panthers

Dallas Cowboys

  • Promoted: TE Princeton Fant

Philadelphia Eagles

Laviska Shenault Jr. missed a handful of games earlier this season thanks to a high ankle sprain, but he was able to avoid an IR stint. He wasn’t as lucky this time around, as a new ankle injury will keep him off the field for at least the next four games. Shenault has hauled in 10 receptions this season for 60 yards, and he’s added another 55 yards on 12 carries. The former Jaguars second-round pick has also returned six kickoffs.

WR DeSean Jackson To Retire

One of the great deep threats in modern NFL history, DeSean Jackson is not planning to play a 16th season. The veteran wide receiver instead intends to announce his retirement as a member of the Eagles, according to the team.

Jackson, who had joined the Raiders and Ravens as an in-season addition over the past two years, played 15 seasons for six teams. While the 2008 second-round pick will primarily be remembered for his contributions in Philadelphia, he made an impact in a few cities. Jackson started 159 games and is one of just 40 players to surpass 11,000 receiving yards for his career.

DeSean Jackson was a dynamic playmaker who captivated Eagles fans with his game-breaking speed, unique skill set, and explosive play,” Eagles owner Jeffery Lurie said in a statement. “What made DeSean truly stand out during his accomplished 15-year career was his ability to make miraculous plays look routine.”

The Cal product spent time in Philly, Washington, Tampa, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Baltimore during his NFL run. He led the NFL in yards per reception in four seasons, most recently in 2018 with the Buccaneers, and remained a coveted player into his mid-30s. Jackson will turn 37 on Friday, choosing that notable date to retire with the team that drafted him.

While no wide receivers went off the board in the 2008 first round, the second produced quality performers. Jordy Nelson and Eddie Royal also became Round 2 picks 15 years ago. Jackson made a quick impact, becoming an immediate long-range threat for Donovan McNabb on an Eagles team that voyaged to the 2008 NFC championship game. Jackson became the fifth player to reach 900 receiving yards in each of his first four seasons; he eclipsed 1,000 in two of those slates. Over the course of his career, Jackson produced five 1,000-yard seasons; the most recent came with Washington in 2016.

Jackson scored 66 touchdowns over the course of his career; one will probably stand out as his most memorable. Used regularly as a punt returner early in his career, Jackson finished off a 24-point Eagles rally to stun the Giants in Week 15 of the 2010 season, completing a walk-off 65-yard punt return. This came a week after he accumulated a career-high 210 yards against the Cowboys, helping the Eagles to the NFC East title in Michael Vick‘s first season as the team’s starter.

Although the deep passing game was more prominent in prior eras, Jackson stood out on that front in this one. Only Devery Henderson produced a higher yards-per-catch average in a season than Jackson’s 22.5 (2010) during the 21st century. Despite Jackson’s deep-ball brilliance, he wore out his welcome in Philly in 2014. Deemed a poor fit during Chip Kelly‘s second offseason in charge, Jackson wound up in Washington on a four-year, $24MM contract. This came after the Eagles had given the 5-foot-10 weapon a five-year, $47MM extension in 2012, Andy Reid‘s final year at the helm.

Washington’s Jackson and Pierre Garcon additions ignited Kirk Cousins, who set single-season franchise records for touchdown passes and passing yards while targeting the two free agency pickups in the mid-2010s. Jackson topped 1,000 yards in 2014 and ’16, but Washington let both veterans walk in 2017 — a year before losing Cousins. While Jackson’s post-Washington years did not generate the same kind of production he offered during his initial run in the NFC East, Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s 9.6 yards per attempt in 2018 came with significant Jackson contributions. The then-Mike Evans sidekick finished that season with a 18.9 yards per reception.

The Eagles reacquired Jackson via trade in 2019, sending a fifth-round pick to the Bucs. But injuries marred Jackson’s second Philly stint. In two seasons back with the Eagles, Jackson suited up for just eight games. The team cut him once again in 2021.

After the Rams released Jackson during the 2021 season, the veteran pass catcher was linked to a few teams. He ended up helping the Raiders to a surprising playoff run, which came after the exits of Jon Gruden and Henry Ruggs. A Ravens team that lost Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay to season-ending injuries sporadically used Jackson while limping into the playoffs last season. Jackson did not play in Baltimore’s wild-card game, however. He operated as the NFL’s oldest receiver in 2022.

Jackson made three Pro Bowls and earned more than $91MM over the course of his career. While Jackson ranks 39th in both career receiving yards and yards per catch, his 17.6 yards per grab rank second among 21st-century wideouts.

Eagles Meet With Shaquille Leonard; Cowboys, Others Remain In Mix

NOVEMBER 29: Leonard’s Eagles visit has wrapped, McLane tweets. The free agent linebacker took a physical during the visit, and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport notes the wait is on. Leonard will take the next few days to weigh his options. No other meetings are scheduled.

NOVEMBER 28: Shaquille Leonard‘s rumored Eagles meeting will end up coming to fruition. The decorated linebacker has completed his Cowboys visit, according to Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz, who reports the Eagles meeting should precede a decision from the standout defender.

Classifying the Cowboys visit as “successful,” Schultz and The Athletic’s Dianna Russini add Leonard is expected to make a decision by the weekend. Even after not reaching an agreement with Leonard, the Cowboys remain in the mix, ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler tweets. Other visits are possible as well, per Fowler, but as of now, a Cowboys-Eagles matchup is transpiring. Each having pursued LB help before the trade deadline, both Super Bowl contenders have been linked to Leonard since his Colts release.

The Leonard-Eagles summit is expected to occur Wednesday, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane, who adds the team will likely put the free agent linebacker through a workout and a physical. Leonard has dealt with injury trouble over the past three seasons, with the health issues moving him off the top tier among off-ball ‘backers. Leonard would have a clear Eagles connection; Nick Sirianni was in Indianapolis as OC from 2018-20.

Leonard, 28, visiting other teams would delay his timetable, but NFL.com’s Jane Slater adds he is anticipating visits to “a couple” more teams after leaving Dallas. A decision coming this weekend, however, would potentially have the sixth-year veteran on track to debut for his new team by Week 14. Though, it would also be understandable if the Cowboys or Eagles — or a surprise finalist — would want to extend a ramp-up period a bit longer due to the late arrival.

The Vikings and Broncos have been mentioned as other suitors here, though with neither having secured a meeting, it may be an all-NFC East race for the four-time All-Pro. Minnesota recently reunited with Anthony Barr, who has been a gameday elevation in each of the past two weeks. The Broncos re-signed Alex Singleton this offseason, continuing a two-year ILB partnership with Josey Jewell.

The Eagles hold the NFL’s best record, and with the Lions losing on Thanksgiving, Philadelphia is the league’s only one- or two-loss team. The defending NFC champions’ conference cushion notwithstanding, they have been dealing with linebacker issues for much of the season. Nakobe Dean has suffered two foot injuries, each sending him to IR. The Eagles can activate the second-year ‘backer from IR for a second time, but Dean remains off the 53-man roster entering a crucial 49ers matchup. Zach Cunningham has also run into an injury issue, going down with a hamstring malady during Philly’s overtime win over Buffalo.

This leaves Nicholas Morrow as the Eagles’ top healthy linebacker. Letting T.J. Edwards and Kyzir White walk in free agency, the Eagles aimed to make Dean the centerpiece of a low-cost linebacking corps. The foot injuries have scuttled that plan. The team brought in Cunningham and Myles Jack during training camp, but the latter retired after several days of practice. Cunningham, whom the Titans released in February, has been a regular starter this season. But he also landed on IR twice during his second and final Tennessee campaign.

Leonard will not fetch anything close to the five-year, $98.5MM extension he signed with the Colts before the 2021 season. Two back surgeries in 2022 changed his Colts trajectory, as did Gus Bradley‘s arrival as DC. With a few teams interested, Leonard still figures to come away with a deal north of the prorated veteran minimum. It is unclear if the Division I-FCS success story is eyeing a multiyear pact — as Odell Beckham Jr. was rumored to be seeking at this point last year, when the Cowboys heavily pursued him — or if he wants a temporary gig to better position him for a free agency bid in 2024. Whichever team signs Leonard now would have exclusive negotiating rights with him until the March legal tampering period.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/28/23

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Houston Texans

Kansas City Chiefs

  • Signed to active roster: CB Ekow Boye-Doe

Miami Dolphins

New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

Following the addition of Michael Carter and the return of Emari Demercado, the Cardinals didn’t have any room for Keaontay Ingram. The 2022 sixth-round pick got into 20 games across one-plus seasons in Arizona, collecting 181 yards from scrimmage and one touchdown. If the running back passes through waivers, there’s a chance he lands on the Cardinals practice squad.

Charlie Heck is back on the Texans active roster after missing the first two-plus months of the season. The offensive lineman was recovering from a back injury that “involved sciatica that went down to his foot,” per Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 in Houston. The former fourth-round pick will look to carve out a role after starting 17 of his 35 NFL appearances through his first three seasons in the NFL.

Eagles’ Interest In Shaquille Leonard Picking Up

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.

Eagles Activate WR Quez Watkins From IR

NOVEMBER 25: It didn’t take long for the Eagles to officially activate Watkins. They are doing so today in time for tomorrow’s matchup against the Bills. With Watkins returning to the fold, Philadelphia now has their full assortments of receivers for a difficult stretch of the schedule. Having the whole receiving corps available is a huge plus as Hurts will be without tight ends Goedert and Grant Calcaterra for at least this upcoming game.

Tight end Noah Togiai will be brought up from the practice squad as a standard gameday elevation to help fill out a thin tight ends position. Joining him as a gameday elevation tomorrow will be practice squad linebacker Ben VanSumeren.

NOVEMBER 22: The NFL’s only one-loss team is moving closer to having its full wideout corps back at work. Quez Watkins returned to Eagles practice Wednesday, opening his 21-day activation window.

Placed on IR after suffering a hamstring injury, Watkins has been sidelined for longer than the IR-minimum requirement. The Philadelphia slot receiver has missed the past five games.

During Watkins’ absence, the Eagles added Julio Jones to their A.J. Brown– and DeVonta Smith-fronted wideout crew. Playing 82 snaps during his four-game run with the defending NFC champions, Jones has four receptions for 16 yards. Prior to Watkins’ injury, the fourth-year receiver was struggling to make an impact as well. Watkins will eventually come off IR with a four-catch, 21-yard stat line.

This is a contract year for Watkins, a 2020 sixth-round pick, and he will need to produce more to command a notable deal in free agency. Watkins did deliver more impressive work in the past. During Jalen Hurts‘ first season — one that became a run-leaning operation as Shane Steichen took over play-calling — Watkins posted a career-high 647 receiving yards. Once the Eagles traded for Brown during the 2022 draft, Watkins’ role took a hit. He finished last season with 354 yards — at just 10.7 per reception.

The Eagles also have Olamide Zaccheaus as a slot option; the ex-Falcon has just six receptions for 87 yards this year. With Dallas Goedert out, the Eagles could certainly use a viable third wideout. And it is worth wondering how frequently the team will use Watkins now that Jones is on the roster. The 8-1 team has six IR activations remaining this season. Goedert would not count toward this total, as the team is not planning to place its top tight end on IR.