Eagles to Add Depth at Linebacker with Signing of Dannell Ellerbe

Joe Robbins | Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles have looked at several linebackers in recent weeks to potentially bolster their depth at the position following the Achilles injury to Jordan Hicks and have made a decision as to who they want to bring in.

Dannell Ellerbe was picked over other candidates such as Jelani Jenkins, Donald Butler and Sean Spence, according to the agency that represents him.

I’m not sure about the whole final piece to the puzzle thing, but Ellerbe does add much-needed depth because it was already scarce before Hick ruptured his Achilles in the Eagles’ win over the Washington Redskins in Week 7. The 31-year-old does have a connection with Joe Douglas going back to his Baltimore Ravens days. It was there where Ellerbe was signed as an undrafted free agent and flourished for four years before signing a big contract with the Miami Dolphins. He was then traded along with a third-round pick to the New Orleans Saints for wide receiver Kenny Stills, spending two seasons in the Big Easy before being cut prior to this season due to an ankle injury.

Now he’s an Eagle.

Philadelphia has been able to mask Hicks’ loss in some ways because its nickel defense is essentially the base. The Eagles are in this defense 60-70 percent of the time with Nigel Bradham and Mychal Kendricks as the two linebackers. But when Joe Walker and Najee Goode see snaps, opposing offenses have exposed their lack of zone defense recognition. With Hicks out, the Eagles haven’t missed a beat stopping the run but this area has been a different story.

Ellerbe is an average zone defender, which is an upgrade over the well-below average Goode and Walker. That’s why this move was made.

When the Eagles make the signing official later on Monday, they’ll have to release someone and my guess would be running back Wendell Smallwood. Philly currently has five backs on the roster and with the recent trade for Jay Ajayi and emergence of Corey Clement, I believe Smallwood is expendable. Clement is more explosive and a much better pass protector.


You can follow Adrian Fedkiw on Twitter (@AdrianFedkiw) and e-mail him at amfedkiw@yahoo.com. Subscribe to The Bitter Birds on YouTube here. Follow Philly Influencer on Twitter (@PHL_Influencer), Facebook and Instagram.

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