The Eagles say they have not signed Russell Shepard (USA Today Sports Images)
LSU wide receiver Russell Shepard was one of nine undrafted free agents that the Philadelphia Eagles agreed to terms with following the 2013 NFL draft. According to Shepard, however, he signed with the Eagles during the draft.
“I actually took myself off the draft board during the draft," Shepard told Matt Moscona of WNXX, via LouisianaDaily.com. "Teams started calling me probably in the middle of the sixth-round asking me 'is it true that you’ve signed with a team already?' and I actually got it out of the way before the draft was over, because that was the perfect fit for me."
Shepard would go on to actually state that he had signed with the Eagles "before the draft was over", which is neither permissible nor factual. Shepard, who had a late-round/free agent grade, may have decided that the Eagles were a good fit for him and that he wanted to sign with them if he were not picked, but he did not, and still has not, signed a contract with the Eagles.
Shepard's claim that he took himself "off the draft board" is also not factual.
As Day 2 of the draft drags on, teams will have their coaches, scouts and other available members of the personnel department continue the process of recruiting prospects they identify as being "priority free agents". Teams expressing in a player in no way prevents another team from stepping in and using a draft pick on that player. In other words, the Eagles may have expressed interest in signing Shepard, and Shepard and his agent may have felt the Eagles were the best fit for him , but that interest is contingent upon Shepard becoming an undrafted free agent. If another team had drafted Shepard, that's the team where his NFL career would begin.
As for any "tampering" charge against the Eagles, there was nothing preventing one of those teams that called Shepard in the sixth-round from drafting him. Since that did not happen, we can assume that those teams that were calling Shepard in the middle of the sixth-round were doing so with the hopes of eventually signing him as undrafted free agent, but were just beaten to the punch by the Eagles.
Shepard's comments prompted the Eagles to issue a statement on Wednesday.
"Russell Shepard has not signed a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. However, we did come to terms on a contract with he and his agent after the draft was completed. We anticipate he, like all of the rookie free agents we have agreed to terms with, will take a physical examination upon arriving in Philadelphia prior to next week’s rookie mini-camp and then sign a contract.”
In addition to Shepard, the Eagles announced that they had reached deals with linebacker Jake Knott, running backs Michael Maysonet and Matthew Tucker, centers Kyle Quinn and Matt Tobin, defensive tackle Isaac Remington, defensive end Damion Square and punter Brad Wing. As the Eagles mentioned in their statement, none of these players have "signed" a contract and are not expected to do so before the Eagles' rookie minicamp, which is scheduled for May 10-12.
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