Eagles Release Veteran LB, Add Depth at ‘Premium Position’

Alex Singleton, Eric Wilson

Getty Alex Singleton and Eric Wilson chat during the Eagles-49ers game in 2021.

Eric Wilson entered the 2021 season as a starting linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles. Eight weeks in, the five-year veteran is laying on the scrap heap. The team benched and released Wilson as it plans to start a youth movement at the position.

The writing was on the wall when Wilson was made a healthy scratch against Detroit. The 27-year-old leaves town with 43 total tackles and one interception in seven games (two starts). Head coach Nick Sirianni hinted that he wasn’t doing enough on special teams to warrant a roster spot.

Davion Taylor has been standing out in recent practices. The second-year linebacker saw a career-high 39 defensive snaps in Week 8. Sirianni also mentioned Shaun Bradley and Alex Singleton taking on bigger roles as reasons for letting Wilson walk.

“We had some guys, with Davion developing and doing some good things, that we wanted to get him more playing time,” Sirianni said of Taylor. “And then on special teams, obviously when it comes to the backup linebackers, they’re such an important part of the special teams – not that Eric didn’t play well on special teams or didn’t do his job when he was in at practice on special teams – but Shaun’s really flourished on special teams and Alex is our special teams captain.”

Wilson’s signing was seen as a coup in the offseason: one year at $2.75 million, plus a minimal cap hit. He was nicknamed a “walking turnover” by Vikings teammates in 2020. Not this year. Wilson was the worst-ranked Eagles linebacker with a 35.2 overall grade (via Pro Football Focus).

“Obviously we’re sad that it didn’t work out here with Eric but he did come in and he filled a role for us,” Sirianni said. “I told him last night, I’ll always be grateful for what he contributed to the organization, to the culture we’re trying to build. He’s a relentless worker – he works so hard, he loves football, I love that about him. Anytime you have to say bye to a player, for whatever reason, you’re always sad about it so obviously I’m sad it didn’t work out.”

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Eagles Add Kary Vincent for CB Depth

The Eagles sent a sixth-rounder to Denver for Kary Vincent Jr. at the trade deadline. The former LSU cornerback has an impressive highlight reel, including lightning speed as a college sprinter. Sirianni addressed the decision to add him to the roster, citing the need for depth at that “premium position.”

“Just like with the offensive and defensive lines, that’s another position there where we want to build depth,” Sirianni said. “He’s got great speed and we’re excited to get him and he had a great preseason and there were a lot of things we liked about him in the pre-draft work. So we’re excited just to build on that – I know our numbers are what they are – but I just think that’s such a premium position you want that depth, you want options there to be able to develop.”

Vincent enters a crowded yet inexperienced cornerbacks room in Philly. Outside of starters Darius Slay and Steven Nelson, the average age in the room is 23. That includes Josiah Scott, Zech McPhearson, Mac McCain, Tay Gowan, Avonte Maddox.

Fletcher Cox-Raiders Deal Fell Apart

Fletcher Cox was indeed on the trading block, but the asking price was too rich for one AFC team. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Las Vegas Raiders called about the All-Pro defensive tackle and threw an offer out. It wasn’t enough. The Eagles were holding out for a Von Miller type haul after watching the Broncos receive a second-rounder and a third-rounder for him.

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