There was tangible excitement in the air when it was reported the Dallas Cowboys were meeting with Shaquille Leonard on Tuesday.
As the first team to host Leonard for a visit after he was released by the Colts, fans viewed this as an opportunity for Jerry Jones to put his foot down and not allow Leonard to leave without a contract. When Jones told 105.3 The Fan on Tuesday that he was having lunch with Leonard later in the day, folks viewed it as a done deal.
If there's one thing Jones knows how to do better than most, it's selling a free agent on the idea of playing for the Cowboys. When the owner starts telling stories and writing stuff on napkins, it's typically game over.
As it turns out, that wasn't enough to convince Leonard to sign, as the three-time All-Pro left Dallas without a deal in place, per reports. That doesn't necessarily mean a deal won't get done, but it does allow Leonard to meet with the linebacker-needy Eagles later this week.
Leonard is expected to make a decision by the weekend.
Shaquille Leonard leaves Cowboys visit without a deal, will visit Eagles next
It'd be reactionary to start pointing fingers at Jones and the Cowboys, but a lot of factors can explain why Leonard left on Tuesday without a contract.
A free agent for the first time in his career, Leonard could simply be keeping his options open. With the Cowboys in need of linebacker help, he technically holds the leverage. Why rush into a deal when he could take a visit with another contender in the Eagles and potentially circle back to Dallas if he doesn't like what Philly has to offer?
Maybe Leonard was adamant about not signing a contract on Tuesday. Or maybe the Cowboys could've signed the linebacker and used better judgment. Think about it. Assuming Leonard was cooperative, do you really think Jones would have left him walk knowing a visit with the Eagles was on deck?
That would be deranged, even for Jerry's standards. The Cowboys have more than earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to evaluating free agents. They're frustratingly patient at times, but their instincts are more often than not spot on.
Would it be a nightmare if Leonard signs with the Eagles? No doubt, but it's not as easy as "don't let him leave without a deal." Any highly touted free agent in Leonard's situation would evaluate all of their options and come to a decision at the end of that process.
We like to think the Cowboys threw the kitchen sink at Leonard. Fans just have to hope it was enough, but we understand any and all trepidation that's settling in knowing that the 28-year-old is meeting with the ever-influential Howie Roseman in a matter of days.
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