Eric Wilson becomes just another name on a long list of free agent linebackers who haven’t worked out in Philadelphia.
Wilson, 27, was waived by the Eagles on Wednesday, just eight games into the 2021 season.
The Eagles signed Wilson to a one-year, $2.75 million contract this offseason and expected him to be their top linebacker. This signing clearly didn’t work out.
Wilson started in Week 1 and played 85% of the Eagles’ defensive snaps in the season opening win in Atlanta. But in the weeks since had seen his playing time decrease dramatically before finally becoming a healthy scratch on Sunday in Detroit.
Why didn’t it work out for Wilson here?
“We had some guys with Davion (Taylor) developing and doing some good things, we wanted to get him more playing time,” head coach Nick Sirianni said. “On special teams, obviously when it comes to the backup linebackers, there’s such an important part in special teams.
“It’s 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 (Bradley) really flourished on special teams and Alex (Singleton) is our special teams captain.”
The Eagles haven’t spent many resources on the linebacker position in recent years and their attempts to bargain bin shop for linebackers clearly haven’t worked.
Here are a few of the veterans they’ve brought in over the last few years: Corey Nelson, Paul Worrilow, L.J. Fort, Zach Brown, Jatavis Brown.
Like all of them before him, Wilson failed to make a significant impact. He struggled mightily this season, especially against the run, before he lost playing time and was ultimately released. Wilson is ProFootballFocus's 75th-ranked linebacker out of 82 league-wide.
In recent weeks, the Eagles have been giving more snaps to Taylor, who was a third-round pick last year, and T.J. Edwards, who is a solid former undrafted player.
The Eagles need their backup linebacker to be core special teams players and Wilson played just 30 special teams snaps all season.
Despite Wilson’s status as a vested veteran, all players are subject to the NFL’s waiver system after the trade deadline. So he’ll become a free agent only if he goes unclaimed.
Wilson’s release leaves the Eagles with one open spot on their 53-man roster.
“Obviously we’re sad that it didn’t work out here with Eric but he did come in and fill a role for us for a time,” Sirianni said. “And, like I told him last night, I’ll always be grateful for what he contributed to this organization and this culture that we’re trying to build. He’s a relentless worker. He works so hard and he loves football and I love that about him. Anytime you have to say bye to a player for whatever reason, you’re always sad about it. So I’m obviously sad that it didn’t work out.”
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