Eagles bolster defense with ex-Vikes LB Wilson

NFL

PHILADELPHIA — The Eagles have signed linebacker Eric Wilson and running back Jordan Howard to one year deals, the team announced Wednesday.

Wilson, 26, was tied for the league lead among linebackers with three interceptions in 2020, and he also had three sacks and eight passes defended to go with 122 tackles in his breakout season.

He is the second former Vikings defensive player to be signed by the Eagles this offseason along with safety Anthony Harris. Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon was a member of Minnesota’s coaching staff from 2014-17 — overlapping with Wilson for one year — and is expected to draw from coach Mike Zimmer’s system as he creates his own in Philadelphia.

Howard, 26, re-joined the Eagles last November after being waived by the Miami Dolphins. He was traded from the Chicago Bears to Philadelphia in 2019 and rushed for 525 yards and six touchdowns in 10 games before being slowed by injury. Howard will compete to be in the running back rotation along with Miles Sanders and Boston Scott.

Wilson’s rise with the Minnesota Vikings from undrafted free agent to special teams player to starting linebacker went into full effect in Week 2 of the 2020 season, when Anthony Barr exited with a torn pectoral muscle that required season-ending surgery.

From that point on, Wilson, who was previously the No. 3 linebacker, played 100% of the defensive snaps for the Vikings. He was the team’s only linebacker to play in every game last season.

At times, he struggled against the run, finishing with 20 missed tackles. His run defense grade of 38.3 was the lowest of any linebacker who played a minimum of 80% of the snaps last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

ESPN’s Courtney Cronin contributed to this report.

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