Eagles Surprisingly Release Defender Days After Start in 49ers Loss

Nick Sirianni

Getty The Philadelphia Eagles are releasing LB Christian Elliss.

The Philadelphia Eagles are making a few moves to coincide with Shaquille Leonard’s addition to the roster.

As announced by the Eagles on Wednesday, December 6, Philadelphia is releasing linebacker Christian Elliss. The move is surprising considering the 24-year-old had started during the team’s 42-19 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 14.

“The Eagles have waived linebacker Christian Elliss from the active roster,” writes Owen Boyle of the Eagles’ official website. “In 12 games this season, Elliss has 16 tackles, two tackles for loss, and one quarterback pressure. The 24-year-old made his first career start in Week 13 against the San Francisco 49ers. The undrafted free agent joined the organization in 2021 after being waived by the Minnesota Vikings. Elliss made 26 tackles in 19 games with the Eagles.”

During his first career start against San Francisco, Elliss made six combined tackles while appearing in 75% of the defensive snaps. During the week prior, he appeared in 28% of the defensive snaps in the Eagles’ 37-34 win over the Buffalo Bills following Zach Cunningham’s injury.

However, Cunningham is expected to be back for this week’s game against the Dallas Cowboys. His return combined with Leonard’s signing made Elliss the odd man out.

Over the course of his career with the Eagles, Elliss had seen the majority of his playing time on special teams, appearing in 87% of the special teams snaps in 2021, 62% of the special teams snaps in 2022 and 76% of the special team snaps this season.


Eagles Bringing Back Wide Receiver Greg Ward

In a corresponding move, Philadelphia is bringing back a longtime receiver.

The Eagles also announced they’re re-signing wide receiver Greg Ward to the practice squad.

“The Eagles have signed wide receiver Greg Ward to the practice squad,” writes Boyle. “Ward was released from the practice squad on November 30. Ward was first signed by the organization in 2017, winning Super Bowl LII as a member of the practice squad. In 40 career games (13 starts), the former college quarterback registered 88 receptions for 768 yards and 10 touchdowns. In 2020, Ward led the team in receptions (53) and receiving touchdowns (6).”

Ward has been on-and-off of the Eagles’ practice squad since signing with the franchise for the first time back in 2017. Although Ward has been a member of Philadelphia’s organization during every season since then, he hasn’t appeared in a single game since the 2021 season.


Nick Sirianni Comments on Shaquille Leonard’s Signing

It’s safe to say that the Eagles are excited regarding the addition of Leonard.

The three-time Pro Bowl linebacker is expected to beef up an already stacked front seven featuring four Pro Bowlers — Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Josh Sweat and Haason Reddick — after choosing the Eagles over the Cowboys.

Head coach Nick Sirianni spoke of Leonard’s signing shortly following his decision earlier in the week.

Via Alexis Chassen of SB Nation’s Bleeding Green Nation:

“We know we’re getting the right person, right leader, with all that,” said Sirianni on Monday, December 4. “And we still have confidence from the tape that he still can play, and he’s been a high-level player in this league for a very long time; ’18, his first year in. That’s a long time to be — three-time all-pro player. Still has a knack to take the ball away. Still has that knack to run and hit the ball carrier. Still has the length that he had to make throws hard in the passing lane.”

The three-time Pro Bowler racked up 15 sacks, 17 forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries and 11 interceptions during his first four seasons with the Indianapolis Colts. If he can provide those types of splash plays in Philadelphia, the Eagles could have an argument for featuring the most talented defensive unit in the NFL.

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