Jim Leonhard no longer an Eagles’ DC candidate; report

An intriguing Eagles’ DC candidate reportedly off the table originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

One of the more intriguing names to pop up in the Eagles’ search for their next defensive coordinator is reportedly out of contention.

The Eagles and former Wisconsin coach Jim Leonhard have “mutually decided they would not move forward with his DC candidacy,” ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported on Wednesday afternoon.

Fowler reported that the 40-year-old Leonhard had planned on hip surgery and taking a year off from coaching until the Eagles’ job opened.

But now you can cross him off the list.

Even without Leonhard in the mix, the Eagles still have plenty of good options to replace Jonathan Gannon, who took the Arizona Cardinals’ head coaching job after two years as the Eagles’ defensive coordinator under Nick Sirianni.

And the Eagles have certainly been casting a wide net, showing interest in coaches with varied backgrounds in college and the pros.

Here are the remaining known candidates:

Dennard Wilson: The Eagles’ defensive backs coach is still a legitimate candidate if the Eagles want to go the internal route. Sirianni has talked before about the importance of promoting from within and it’s a philosophy shared by owner Jeff Lurie and the organization.

And Wilson is also qualified. He’s been a defensive backs coach for years and has coached under Gannon, Gregg Williams and Todd Bowles. His players, including Darius Slay and Rodney McLeod, have also talked him up in recent years.

Vance Joseph: The Eagles could end up with a de facto trade if Joseph ends up in Philly. The Cardinals’ former defensive coordinator has also been a head coach before in Denver. And the Eagles are showing legitimate interest in Joseph.

The Eagles conducted a 4 1/2-hour Zoom interview with Joseph on Tuesday and were expected to have another one Wednesday with Lurie and GM Howie Roseman, Mike Klis of 9News in Denver reported.

Chris Shula: The Rams defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator has already interviewed with the Eagles, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported. The 37-year-old has been on Sean McVay’s staff since 2017. Shula is the grandson of coaching legend Don Shula.

Jesse Minter: The University of Michigan defensive coordinator has also interviewed with the Eagles, Garafolo reported. Minter has been at Michigan for just one season after previously working at Vanderbilt and with the Ravens. So he’s worked under both Harbaugh brothers.

Sean Desai: While it’s unclear if the interview has taken place, the Eagles did reportedly request to interview Desai, who joined the Seahawks in 2022 as an associate head coach and defensive assistant. CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones reported that interest.

Desai spent nine season with the Bears in various roles, last serving as DC in 2021. He has a long history with longtime defensive coach Vic Fangio from their time together in Chicago. And Desai also coached at Temple under Al Golden.

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