The Philadelphia Eagles made a minor trade Monday to acquire a linebacker who can play special teams. The team swapped safety Johnathan Cyprien and a 2020 seventh-round pick with Atlanta for linebacker Duke Riley and a 2020 sixth-round pick.
On paper, the trade should help bolster the Eagles’ special teams unit as Riley will step into the L.J. Fort role. Fort was released Friday and recently claimed by the Baltimore Ravens. Riley, a third-round pick out of LSU in 2017, has started 16 games in two-plus NFL seasons while racking up 81 total tackles and one quarterback hit. Make no mistake, the 25-year-old is in Philly for his special teams work where he played 78 snaps for Atlanta this season.
Riley was a once a promising young starter for the Falcons in 2017 after signing a four-year, $3.51 million contract, but quickly saw his usage slip due to poor play. He eventually lost the starting job at weakside linebacker in Atlanta to Foyesade Oluokun in 2018.
Duke Riley Pulls Huge SUV with Bare Hands
Duke Riley caused a bit of a stir on social media back in 2017 when he posted a crazy training video of a workout routine. In it, a shirtless Riley can be seen literally dragging a GMC Denali as friends take pictures of the massive tow job. It looks like something from a strongest man competition.
Considered undersized at the NFL Combine, the 230-pound linebacker still put up 18 reps at 225 pounds for the scouts. He patterned his game after another undersized linebacker: Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks.
The former LSU standout was named permanent team captain and MVP in 2016. He also racked up a team-high 93 tackles, including nine for loss, and 1.5 sacks in 12 games for the Tigers in his senior season. Riley already has a friend on the Eagles’ roster, too. He played alongside cornerback Jalen Mills at LSU and was a participant at Mills’ charity softball game in Reading, PA.
Good Friends with Browns Receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
A native of Buras, Louisiana, Riley lost his childhood home at the age of 11 when Hurricane Katrina swept through the New Orleans area. He attended John Curtis High School and helped lead the school to three straight Class 2A state championships.
Riley often went up against Odell Beckham Jr. and his Isidore Newman School in Louisiana. The two often carpooled together growing up and remain pretty close friends to this day. In fact, Riley has taken Beckham’s advice on how to be a professional athlete to heart.
“I talk to him if not every day, every other day,” Riley told NOLA.com. “We talk about the positive stuff in his life. He warned me that, ‘Your life is under a microscope. You have to watch what you do and what you say. People tell you all type of stuff. You have to control what you can control, don’t get involved with the stupid stuff that can jeopardize your career.'”
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