The Eagles are coming off of a stunning win over Carolina, but it was a victory that wasn’t without setbacks. Attrition was at an all-time high for this Defense…especially as far as linebackers are concerned. Jordan Hicks left the game early due to injury and wouldn’t return, while Nigel Bradham spent a brief stint on the sideline also. Even though both are expected to return to practice as normal, the Birds may well have been looking at insurance policies.
According to a report from ESPN’s Field Yates, the Eagles worked out three linebackers after the win.
Source: after LB Jordan Hicks left Thursday's win with an ankle injury, Eagles worked out LBs Donald Butler, Jelani Jenkins & Sean Spence.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) October 16, 2017
The linebackers in question are no under-the-radar depth players either. The one common thread here is that both Spence and Butler worked out for the Niners (a future Eagles opponent) back in September after Reuben Foster sprained his ankle.
Butler is a former third round pick of the Chargers. The 28-year old played in a total of 71 games with the team before injuries and some mentality setbacks began to ripple through his career. With 279 tackles, 7 sacks and 14 passes defensed, Butler has plenty of league experience…but hasn’t been able to live up to the form he once showed as a Charger.
After being cut in 2016, Butler signed with the Dolphins as a depth linebacker, playing in 14 games and amassing 28 tackles. Eventually becoming a starter in five games, the Dolphins also decided to let the pending free agent walk. The outside linebacker may not have the coverage prowess of Jordan Hicks or Nigel Bradham, but would theoretically bring experience and reliability. However as a Dolphin, Butler seemed lost at times on the field and allowed some huge rushing lanes, most memorably for Melvin Gordon against the Chargers.
Spence, who also worked out for the Niners, has long been a consistent linebacker in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steelers after being drafted in the third-round back in 2012. Spence eventually found his way to the Colts after his stint with Pittsburgh came to an end, but was unable to make the final cuts. Despite being re-signed by Indy, Spence was released earlier in October. With 97 tackles and 5 sacks to his name, Spence has plenty of NFL experience and is young enough at 27 to prove valuable depth…but will he be the answer to a potential Eagles problem?
Finally, there’s Jelani Jenkins. The 25-year old former fourth-round pick of Miami has 163 tackles in 53 games. The production of Jenkins has never been the question, but his injury status has. Jenkins actually signed with the Oakland Raiders in March but was placed on injured reserve just months later. From there, Jenkins was signed to the Bills roster only to be waived at the same time as Trae Elston, who was picked up by the Eagles.
It’s interesting that the Eagles are working out a flurry of experienced linebackers, especially considering the short-term injury picture. With Mychal Kendricks (who collected 17 tackles on Thursday night), Joe Walker, Najee Goode, and Kamu Grugier-Hill, the Eagles have an abundance of linebacker talent…so working out such esteemed names is puzzling. Are they looking for an insurance policy, or is there more to the injuries of Hicks and Bradham than meets the eye?
Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports