Hall of Famer names Eagles fan favorite as the free agent they can’t lose

Gil Brandt (Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
Gil Brandt (Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) /

Roster turnover is inevitable in the NFL. It’s just a part of the deal and one of the many reasons for a phrase we’ve all uttered 100 times or more, ‘football is a business’. Sure, it’s a game too. For every member of the Philadelphia Eagles‘ roster, they’ve thought about wins and losses and given blood sweat, and tears for a team that has gotten us all to the television on Sundays, but they also have another thought on their minds, creating a better life for themselves and their families.

Over time, we’ve grown to love several Birds icons who have taken things a step further. Guys like Brian Dawkins, Carson Wentz, Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long, and even Eagles CEO/Chairman Jeffrey Lurie have invested both time and money into making the lives of people that they don’t know better.

Rodney McLeod, Philly’s choice as their Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee received the National Football League Players Association’s Alan Page Community Award earlier in February thanks, in part, to the work he’s done with his Change Our Future charity. As the final days of the month trickled away, he earned another well-deserved honor.

According to an official team announcement, he’s also the winner of the Ed Block Courage Award for the 2021 NFL season, an annual honor that’s voted on by players and given to “those National Football League players who exemplify commitments to the principles of sportsmanship and courage”,

McLeod, who won the award after his comeback from the ACL injury he suffered in December of 2020 is one of the most respected players by coaches and peers on the field and in the locker room. He also has the respect of some of the game’s greats as evidenced by the words of a Pro Football Hall of Famer recently.

Gil Brandt names Rodney McLeod as the one free agent the Eagles can’t lose.

Though he probably won’t ever be considered to have his likeness carved onto a Philly sports Mount Rushmore, Gil Brandt is one of the most important figures in football’s history as evidenced by his bust being carved and enshrined in Canton, Ohio at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He also does some work for NFL.com as a senior analyst.

Recently, he dropped a write-up in which he details one impending free agent on every NFL roster that the franchise can’t lose, and he names McLeod as his choice for the guys in midnight green. Here’s his theory.

"The Eagles’ crop of free agents doesn’t present many no-doubt return candidates. McLeod is 31, but he ranked second on the team in targeted EPA (-9.5), per NGS, and had two picks, making him one of two Philadelphia players to log more than one interception on the season (joining Darius Slay, who had three). He’s a good fit as a veteran presence on a defense that ranked 10th overall and 11th against the pass in 2021."

McLeod is one of a dozen impending free agents that the Eagles brass will have to make decisions on in the coming weeks. The discussions about him are all over the place.

Some say release him. Many believe Philly’s best bet is to re-sign him while others believe that a combination of both theories makes the most sense. They believe that there’s a possibility that the Birds will go the route of releasing him while holding on to the hope that he’ll still be available to bring back for a smaller price tag after the NFL Draft.

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For now, all of that is conjecture. We’ll have to wait and see what happens, but whenever we bring up money and the steps that need to be taken to remain competitive in an ever-changing NFL landscape, fan favorites like McLeod are caught in the crossfire. As you can see though, he has his supporters, including one that’s been immortalized in Canton.