Dennard Wilson, who spent the last two years as the Eagles’ secondary coach, is joining John Harbaugh and the Ravens in a similar role.
Baltimore announced the deal Tuesday morning.
Wilson appeared to be among the favorites for the Eagles’ defensive coordinator job in the early stages of the search after Jonathan Gannon took the Cards head coaching job, but after interviewing nine candidates - including Wilson - the Eagles instead hired Seahawks associate head coach and defensive assistant Sean Desai.
MORE: Slay eager to meet Eagles’ new DC and help ease transition
Wilson, 40, accompanied the Eagles to the Combine in Indianapolis but soon informed the Eagles he wouldn’t return to the team in 2023.
The Ravens already have a secondary coach in Chris Hewitt, a North Jersey native and former Rutgers assistant who’s been with the Ravens since the 2012 Super Bowl season. Hewitt holds the title of passing game coordinator / secondary. The Ravens lost safeties coach D’Anton Lynn earlier two weeks ago when he joined Chip Kelly’s UCLA staff as defensive coordinator. So they have an opening on the defensive coaching staff, they'll just need to shuffle some titles around.
Harbaugh, who coached special teams for the Eagles from 1999 through 2006 and the secondary in 2007, is starting his 16th year as head coach of the Ravens.
Wilson played high school football at DeMatha in Hyattsville, Md. – the same high school that produced Brian Westbrook and Rodney McLeod (and Adrian Dantley) - and played college ball at Maryland, so even though he’s never worked for the Ravens he’s got strong ties to the area. Wilson coached with the Rams and Jets before joining the Eagles in 2021.
Under Wilson this past season, the Eagles had the No. 1 pass defense in the NFL for the first time in 32 years.
Darius Slay made his fifth Pro Bowl, James Bradberry led the NFL in opposing passer rating and made second-team all-pro, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson shared the NFL lead with six interceptions despite missing five games, and Marcus Epps started 17 games in his first year as a starter.
But when the Eagles kept bringing in more and more candidates for the DC job, it seemed more and more apparent they wouldn't be promoting from within.
Sirianni conceded at the Combine after hiring Desai that Wilson’s future with the organization was uncertain:
“Yeah, we'll obviously go through that as we continue on,” Sirianni said last week at the Combine. “Does the staff dynamic fit? Does Sean have anybody? But Dennard is a great football coach. He's done an outstanding job.
"If he is still our defensive backs coach, we'll be lucky to have him because we know how good of a coach he is. I think the world of Dennard and how good of a football coach he is.”
Wilson is believed to have favored a more aggressive approach to defense than Gannon or Desai, which could be why Sirianni hired Desai. He seems to fit more into Sirianni’s vision of how he wants his defense to play.
The Ravens ranked 3rd in the NFL in defense this past year, the eighth time since 2008 they’ve had a top-5 defense.