Rodney McLeod to Eagles: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Scott PolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 9, 2016

St. Louis Rams free safety Rodney McLeod celebrates after recovering a fumble and running it back for a touchdown during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Billy Hurst)
Billy Hurst/Associated Press

The Philadelphia Eagles added a potential difference-maker to the back end of their defense Wednesday when they announced the signing of safety Rodney McLeod.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported McLeod agreed to a five-year, $37 million deal. ESPN's Adam Schefter added McLeod will receive $17 million guaranteed.

This comes a year after the then-St. Louis Rams tendered McLeod before the 2015 campaign. Nate Latsch of said that move was essentially a one-year contract for McLeod, and the safety apparently did enough during that one season to earn this new deal.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher provided a positive review for McLeod at the time, per Latsch:

Every year he just steps it up a huge notch, from being our best special teamer the first year, to starting last year to now he’s in a role as a starter. He gets the game. Moves very well. I thought he played really well last year. He misjudged a couple deep balls, but everybody does that. But I thought he was really active, knew what to do, and run-supported very well. 

The fact McLeod earned that praise from the veteran coach is a testament to the defensive back’s overall work ethic. He was an undrafted free agent out of Virginia who worked his way onto special teams with the Rams and eventually into the starting safety role during his tenure.

He was one of the bright spots for a Rams defense that finished a disappointing 23rd against the pass and 23rd in total yards allowed during the 2015 campaign, and he turned in solid stats along the way:

Rodney McLeod's Career Stats
SeasonTeamCombined TacklesInterceptionsForced FumblesFumble RecoveriesPasses Defended
2012St. Louis Rams120000
2013St. Louis Rams792327
2014St. Louis Rams722226
2015St. Louis Rams821315

That production was enough for Pro Football Focus to deem McLeod as its 10th-highest graded safety overall in 2015, via PFF's Michael Renner. Renner also called McLeod a “piece that needs to be retained” for the Rams secondary, but the safety instead joined Philadelphia this offseason.

His versatility on the field allows him to come up and support against the run and hang with tight ends, running backs and even wide receivers if needed on passing downs. The 5'10'', 195-pounder can also dish out hard hits on pass-catchers over the middle and is constantly around the ball from the safety spot—as his tackles, fumble recoveries, forced fumbles and interceptions indicate.

What’s more, McLeod is only 25 years old and was one of the most durable players available in free agency. He played all 16 games in each of the past four seasons and should just be hitting his prime for his new team.

Pete Prisco of CBS Sports weighed in on the safety:

McLeod’s new team hopes he can use that speed to continue forcing turnovers as a playmaker at the back of the defense.