3 things to know about new Eagles linebacker Eric Wilson, beginning with why he won't come off the field

Martin Frank
Delaware News Journal
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The Eagles might have had one of the worst linebacking corps in the NFL last season, but they could be changing that by signing Eric Wilson from the Vikings on Wednesday.

The NFL Network reported that Wilson is signing a one-year deal worth $3.25 million.

Wilson had three interceptions and three sacks last season, showing that he can cover receivers as well as rush the passer. He also led the Vikings with 122 tackles, showing that he can stop the run as well.

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His three INTs matched the total of the entire Eagles' linebacker unit last season. He also had eight pass breakups.

Wilson's three sacks were more than any Eagles' linebacker as well. He also had nine quarterback hits.

By signing Wilson, the Eagles decrease the chances of drafting a linebacker in the first round with their pick at No. 12 overall. It's possible that Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons would be available there.

The Eagles haven't drafted a linebacker inn the first round since 1979. Then again, Wilson's contract is for only one year.

In this  Friday, Dec. 25, 2020, file photo, New Orleans Saints wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (17) carries on a reception against Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Eric Wilson (50) in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans.

The Eagles also brought back running back Jordan Howard for his third stint. Howard signed with the Eagles for one year in 2019, then got a two-year, $10 million deal with the Dolphins in 2020. The Dolphins released Howard midway through the season and he returned to the Eagles.

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Howard had seven carries for 27 yards in two games last season. For the Dolphins, Howard had just 33 yards on 28 carries, an average of 1.2 yards per carry. But Howard did score four touchdowns with Miami.

Here are three things to know about Wilson:

Eagles' Jordan Howard struggles to find a way around Chicago's Eddie Jackson (39) Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

1. A rising star?

Wilson was signed by the Vikings in 2017 as an undrafted free agent out of Cincinnati. But he didn't become a regular starter until last season after Anthony Barr was lost for the season with a torn pectoral muscle suffered in Week 2.

Wilson started 15 games last season and finished with 122 tackles along with the 3 sacks and INTs. Wilson played 100% of the defensive snaps from Week 3 through the end of the season. 

Before 2020, Wilson started a total of 10 games in his previous three seasons.

The Vikings ranked 27th in total defense last season, allowing 393 yards per game.

2. The Gannon/Vikings connection

Wilson becomes the second player from the Vikings to sign with the Eagles in free agency, joining safety Anthony Harris, who signed last month.

Wilson and Harris were both with the Vikings in 2017 when current Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon was the assistant defensive backs coach.

In addition, Eagles linebackers coach Nick Rallis spent the last three seasons as the Vikings' assistant linebackers coach.

Both Wilson and Harris were undrafted free agents when they came to the Vikings, only to become starters.

3. Filling a void at LB

Over the last two offseasons, the Eagles have allowed starters Nigel Bradham, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nathan Gerry and Duke Riley to leave in free agency.

The Eagles drafted two linebackers last spring – Davion Taylor in the third round and Shaun Bradley in the sixth. Bradley played just 7% of the snaps last season and Taylor played just 3%.

Wilson will likely start with Alex Singleton and T.J. Edwards, with Taylor and Bradley filling in when needed. But since Wilson played every snap over the final 14 games of the season, it's safe to assume that he will not be coming off the field in nickel and dime packages.

Contact Martin Frank at mfrank@delawareonline.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.

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