Free agent linebacker Shaquille Leonard spent Tuesday with the Cowboys and Wednesday with the Eagles.
Now, it’s decision time.
The three-time All-Pro is reportedly expected to make that decision this weekend. Next weekend, the Eagles play the Cowboys in North Texas, so Leonard has to choose which sideline he wants to be on.
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Nick Sirianni on Wednesday afternoon confirmed that Leonard was in the building and said he met with Leonard at the NovaCare Complex earlier in the morning. Leonard spent some time with assistant coaches in the early afternoon.
What is Sirianni’s pitch to Leonard?
“All I'll ever do is just be honest with him and tell him what the situation is here, what the situation is in this building,” Sirianni said. “I think the pitch is just the guys that we have in this building, and some of them he has a prior relationship, too.
“I want Shaq to make the decision that's best for him. Because, again, when there is that prior relationship you want to make sure -- and that's what I said to him, ‘I just want you to make the best decision for you. Take all the information from both places and do what's best for you.’
“So, I've called him a bunch the last couple days, and, shoot, he'll make the decision that's best for him. I'm confident in that. He's a good person.”
It’s been a long time since Sirianni was recruiting at the college level. But he got a chance to brush off some of those skills this week.
Leonard already has some familiarity with Sirianni. The two were in Indianapolis together from 2018-2020. And when Sirianni bombed his introductory press conference in Philly in 2021, Leonard publicly defended him.
During a game week, the head coach is obviously pretty busy. But Sirianni made sure to carve out some time to spend with Leonard.
“You just shuffle things around a little bit, get in a little bit earlier to get some things done so you can have a little bit more time to spend,” Sirianni said.
“So, any guy that comes in here, I want to spend time with them and talk to them. Obviously, there is a prior relationship there. I was close with him when we were in Indy. I just thought you can learn so much from good players. Just think about how he went about how he attacked the day, and also how he saw the game as an offensive coach. That was always a good perspective talking to him and I just had so much respect for him.
“It was good to be able to catch up with him and relive some memories, but also talk a little bit about what this building is like.”
If Leonard takes until the weekend to make his decision, the Eagles obviously won’t have him for Sunday’s NFC Championship Game rematch against the 49ers. With Nakobe Dean on IR and with Zach Cunningham dealing with a hamstring injury, the Eagles are a little light at the position.
They still have Nicholas Morrow and Christian Elliss, who will likely start. And they will likely have to use their open roster spot on UDFA Ben VanSumeren, who has been elevated the last three games. The Eagles have already used up all three of his elevations so to have him in uniform on Sunday, VanSumeren will have to be on the 53-man roster.
The Eagles will have to scrape by at linebacker this weekend. But there could be some help on the way.