The Eagles have confirmed the signing of 31-year old linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and also announced a corresponding roster move. Former Jets cornerback Dexter McDougle is the player making way for the veteran. A move that could also carry weight elsewhere.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) November 13, 2017
McDougle was signed by the Eagles prior to the team’s fourth preseason game and has proven to be a valuable defensive piece. Playing in 9% of defensive snaps and 43% of special teams snaps this year, McDougle’s presence in the nickel has been vital when the Eagles have been low on depth. Seen as a developmental corner, McDougle’s contract meant his future was largely up in the air, but his impressive form saw him earn a more integrated role in the Eagles gameplan. The team wouldn’t waive McDougle without a justified reason…and that reason may well be Ronald Darby.
The Eagles’ starting corner has been sidelined since week one with an ankle injury and after easing his way back into a limited practice role, could well be ready to take the field once again now that the bye week has passed. The former Buffalo Bill made an interception in his first preseason game as an Eagle, and while a non-contact injury when marking Jordan Reed has hindered his progress, expect him to be dropped right back in to the front lines soon.
The Eagles would have a surplus of corners regardless of whether or not McDougle was the fall guy, but this was the move that made most positional sense for the Eagles.
As for the new signing, the 31-year old linebacker joins a corps that runs low on depth after losing Jordan Hicks. Even more interestingly, he was signed as a UDFA by the Baltimore Ravensback in 2009, the connection to Joe Douglas shines through. The Eagles continue to build on the culture that is flourishing within the locker room. Ellerbe spent four years with the Ravens prior to bouncing to Miami.
Without Hicks, the Eagles linebacker group isn’t just light, it’s young. Aside from Bradham and Kendricks, the Birds are left with a second-year player in Joe Walker who is playing in his first defensive snaps in the NFL, Kamu Grugier-Hill and Najee Goode. While they have performed valiantly so far, all three of these players are renowned special teamers. If the Birds are to cement their playoff charge, the veteran presence of yet another Super Bowl champion will only help the young group grow.