The Philadelphia Eagles acquired Australian native and former Iowa State defensive end Matt Leo as part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program, according to an official announcement from the team.
So ... what does that mean? NFL.com explains:
The pathway program was instituted in 2017 and is designed to provide elite international athletes the opportunity to earn a spot on an NFL roster. [...] Players selected to the program who aren’t signed to a free agent contract will be randomly awarded to one of the NFL’s eight divisions. Following training camp, each player will be eligible for an international player practice squad exemption with his assigned team.
The program is an effort by the NFL to increase the global appeal of American football and give opportunities to foreign-born players in the process.
Leo appeared in 20 games with the Iowa State Cyclones in 2018 and 2019. The 6-7, 275 pound defender logged 33 total tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, and three sacks during that span.
The 27-year-old Leo is a long shot to make the Eagles’ roster, especially considering the lack of a normal offseason practice schedule. But it can’t hurt to bring him and take a look to see if he can be a pleasant surprise. Assuming Leo doesn’t make the 53-man roster, the Eagles can keep him as a bonus 13th practice squad member. You can read more about Leo, a former rugby player, by clicking here.
Leo joins Jordan Mailata and Cameron Johnston to give the Eagles three different Aussies.