Dannell Ellerbe

NFC Notes: Bears, Stafford, Falcons, Ellerbe

The Bears most recent loss to San Francisco this afternoon has Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun Times asking, “What’s left to evaluate?” in terms of what the franchise should do this offseason.

Jahns asserts that change is inevitable and that losing to one of the worst teams in the NFL is just a sign that there needs to be at least somewhat of an overhaul in the organization from top to bottom.

The reporter also cites that the team is not handling themselves like a 3-9 roster, as they frequently post videos of themselves fooling around in the locker room and had a heated exchange in practice between current wide receiver Josh Bellamy and the recently released Tre McBride. Despite the walls seeming to close on him, head coach John Fox expressed that his team had a good week of preparation for their Week 13 contest.

“It was hard to even talk to the team after this loss,” Fox said. “We had a great week of preparation. The guys’ mindsets [are] good; they’re working at it.”

Chicago has its young signal caller in Mitch Trubisky, but big changes may be on the horizon elsewhere on the roster and coaching staff considering the troubles the team has gone through in 2017.

  • Coming into Week 13 with a leg injury, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford also suffered “nerve-type damage” to his throwing hand during this afternoon’s game, according to Kyle Meinke of MLive.com. Meinke reports that while the 29-year-old signal caller didn’t suffer any breaks, but there was a lot of pain. “I couldn’t feel it too well, to tell you the truth,” Stafford said. “Had some, like, burning nerve pain, I didn’t know what it was going to be. But X-rays were negative.” With their loss today, Detroit will have to run the table in order to have a shot at the postseason, and it appears they’ll have to do it with their franchise signal caller not even close to full health.
  • There’s going to be at least some shakeup in the Falcons coaching staff this offseason. Quarterbacks coach Bush Hamdan is leaving his position in Atlanta to become the new offensive coordinator at the University of Washington, reports Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. The position became available after the school’s former offensive coordinator, Jonathan Smith, became the head coach at Oregon State. Hamdan will wait till the end of the Falcons season before he departs for his new job.
  • Eagles linebacker Dannell Ellerbe is active for the first time this season for tonight’s game vs. Seattle, reports Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). The Eagles signed the veteran middle linebacker in the middle of November and he could see significant playing time because current Eagles starter Joe Walker is out with a neck injury. Ellerbe last played for New Orleans in Week 16 of the 2016-17 season.

Eagles To Sign Dannell Ellerbe

It seems the Eagles were still able to make some news today, despite being on bye. The team will reportedly be signing veteran linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Dannell Ellerbe

Ellerbe is best known for his time playing opposite Ray Lewis during the Ravens 2012-13 Super Bowl run. Since then the soon-to-be 32-year-old has played for both the Dolphins and Saints, collecting 140 tackles during his four years since leaving Baltimore. The linebacker played in just 15 games with New Orleans over the past two years, but is certainly coming in refreshed having not appeared in a game this season.

The former undrafted linebacker out of the University of Georgia will join an Eagles linebacking core that consists of starters Nigel Bradham, Najee Goode and Mychal Kendricks. The team’s backup options include Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nate Gerry and Joe Walker. Philadelphia was forced to place talented third-year linebacker Jordan Hicks on the IR with an achilles injury a few weeks ago.

Ellerbe likely won’t be forced into a starting spot barring anymore injuries, but the veteran should bring some depth to a defensive unit that is allowing the least amount of rushing yards per game in the NFL (66.4) heading into this week’s action.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Work Out LB Dannell Ellerbe

The Eagles worked out former Saints linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, according to a source who spoke with ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter). Ellerbe could help fill in for linebacker Jordan Hicks after he went down with an Achilles injury. Dannell Ellerbe

Ellerbe, who turns 32 at the end of November, is in search of his fourth NFL team since entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2009. Ellerbe has shown his talent on the field, but injuries have slowed him over the years. The veteran has played in just 77 games out of 128 possible regular season contests with the Ravens, Dolphins, and Saints.

This year, the Saints cut Ellerbe while he was held back with a foot injury. New Orleans opted to eat $1.7MM in dead money rather than keep him on the roster, which speaks to his condition at the time. If he is healthy, however, he could be a contributor for Philly or another club in the second half of the season. The 7-1 Eagles are in the middle of the pack (No. 16) in terms of defensive DVOA.

Ellerbe racked up 68 tackles, four sacks (all of which came in 2016) and a forced fumble during his 15-game, 12-start tenure with New Orleans.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints Release Dannell Ellerbe

The Saints have released linebacker Dannell Ellerbe from injured reserve, Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com reports (on Twitter). The move was expected after Ellerbe recently received medical clearance for the foot injury that sent him to IR a month ago.

Dannell Ellerbe

Ellerbe, 31, will now seek out his fourth NFL employer since entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2009. The former Georgia Bulldog has struggled with injuries throughout his career with the Ravens, Dolphins and Saints, having played in just 77 of a possible 128 regular-season games. Ellerbe missed 17 of 32 games in his two seasons in New Orleans, which acquired him and a third-round pick from the Dolphins for wide receiver Kenny Stills in 2015. That came after Ellerbe missed all but one game in 2014, his last of two seasons in Miami.

Ellerbe contributed 68 tackles, four sacks (all of which came last season) and a forced fumble during his 15-game, 12-start tenure with the Saints. His release leaves the team with $1.7MM in dead money.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Saints’ Dannell Ellerbe

An interesting name is about to enter the free agent linebacker market. Dannell Ellerbe has been cleared for football by Dr. Robert Anderson and he’ll be released from IR soon now that his foot has healed up, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Dannell Ellerbe

[RELATED: Saints Sign Zach Line, Bryan Braman]

The Saints were forced to shut Ellerbe down in late July after his latest ailment. The linebacker has struggled to stay healthy over the last three seasons, appearing in just 16 regular season games over that span. However, he has been productive when on the field. In 2016, Ellerbe racked up 44 total tackles and 4.0 sacks for the Saints across nine games. Before the foot problem, Ellerbe was expected to compete for the Saints’ starting weakside linebacker job.

For what it’s worth, the advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus have never been all that high on Ellerbe. Last year, he graded out as the No. 60 ranked linebacker in the NFL out of 86 qualified players. He had respectable showings for his coverage and pass rush, but his run defense score was among the worst of any qualified LB.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints Place LB Dannell Ellerbe On IR

The Saints are placing linebacker Dannell Ellerbe on IR, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Once the veteran heals up from his foot injury, he’ll be waived by New Orleans. "<strong

[RELATED: Michael Mauti Re-Signs With Saints]

Ellerbe has struggled to stay healthy over the last three seasons, but he has shown that he can still be a difference maker when he is on the field. In 2016, Ellerbe tallied 44 total tackles and 4.0 sacks for the Saints across nine games. This year, he was expected to compete for the Saints’ starting weakside linebacker job. Now, we could see either rookie Alex Anzalone or the returning Hau’oli Kikaha on the first unit.

Per the terms of his restructured deal, it is believed that Ellerbe’s $1.7MM base salary for 2017 is fully guaranteed and his roster bonus of $750K is guaranteed for injury.

Since 2014, injuries have limited Ellerbe to just 16 total games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints Restructure Dannell Ellerbe’s Contract

8:36am: According to Field Yates of ESPN.com (via Twitter), the Saints have made the following adjustments to Ellerbe’s contract for 2016:

  • Reduced base salary from $4.1MM to $1.7MM (fully guaranteed, per Aaron Wilson)
  • Reduced roster bonus from $1MM to $750K (guaranteed for skill and injury, per Wilson)
  • Reduced workout bonus from $100K to $50K
  • Added $700K in playing-time incentives

Taking into account Ellerbe’s $700K in prorated bonus money, it looks like New Orleans trimmed the linebacker’s cap hit for 2016 from $5.9MM to $3.2MM, as Wilson tweets. That number would increase if Ellerbe earns some of his incentives, but for now, it looks like those won’t count against the cap.

Ellerbe’s 2017 year will now feature the same contract terms as 2016, but that year could be voided if he plays 80% of the Saints’ defensive snaps this year, says Yates.

11:32am: The Saints won’t release linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, but have restructured his contract to reduce his 2016 cap hit, reports Mike Triplett of ESPN.com. The details of Ellerbe’s reworked deal aren’t yet known, but the veteran linebacker almost certainly agreed to a pay cut as part of the move.Dannell Ellerbe

[RELATED: Saints cut Jahri Evans, David Hawthorne, Ramon Humber]

Ellerbe, who was acquired by New Orleans last March in the trade that sent Kenny Stills to the Dolphins, was limited to six games in his first season as a Saint due to nagging toe and hip injuries. The team apparently saw enough in those games to want him back for 2016, however, so Ellerbe didn’t meet the same fate as fellow linebackers David Hawthorne and Ramon Humber, who became cap casualties earlier this week.

Ellerbe had been set to count for $5.9MM against the cap in 2016, including a $4.1MM base salary. As Joel Corry of CBSSports.com details, that salary was initially guaranteed for injury only, but would have become fully guaranteed today if the Saints had kept the 30-year-old on their roster without adjusting his contract.

Here are a few more Saints-related notes for Wednesday:

  • Referring to the last time the Saints and Drew Brees negotiated a contract as a point of reference, Evan Woodbery of the New Orleans Times-Picayune says the quarterback will be a tough adversary this offseason, if and when the club enters contract talks with him.
  • In a separate Times-Picayune piece, Woodbery explores what a new (and potentially final) contract for Brees might look like, writing that it’s “hard to imagine Brees’ camp seeking anything lower than $20MM a year.” The fact that the veteran QB currently counts for $30MM against the 2016 cap gives him leverage, since a 2017 franchise tag would be unpalatable for the Saints.
  • In a piece focusing on the three NFL teams with the worst salary cap situations, Joel Corry of CBSSports.com discusses the Saints, referring to Brees’ $30MM cap charge as “the elephant in the room.” Corry suggests New Orleans ought to restructure Cameron Jordan‘s contract, and adds that it may be time for the club to part ways with longtime Saints Marques Colston and Zach Strief.

Saints Down To $850K In Cap Space

The Saints are down to $850K in cap space now that they have to pick up the bill on linebacker Dannell Ellerbe’s roster bonus, Mike Triplett of ESPN.com writes.

It was originally believed that a $2.1MM roster bonus due April 1st would count against the Dolphins’ salary cap. Instead, it will count against the Saints’ cap at $700K per year from 2015-17. The Saints acquired Ellerbe and a third-round pick from Miami earlier this month in exchange for young wide receiver Kenny Stills. Ellerbe later agreed to a pay cut with New Orleans.

While $700K in cap space doesn’t mean a whole lot on the surface, every dollar counts for New Orleans because of their tight financial situation. Triplett estimated that they’ll have to create $2MM more in cap space to fit in their draft picks and they’ll need even more if they want to shoe in any free agents above the minimum salary.

The Saints can still carve out space elsewhere with moves like reworking guard Jahri Evans‘ contract or extending defensive end Cameron Jordan‘s deal. However, the news on Ellerbe gives them a little less wiggle room as they try to work some accounting magic this spring.

Dannell Ellerbe Accepts Pay Cut

1:25pm: According to Joel Corry of CBSSports.com (Twitter links), the restructure of Ellerbe’s contract actually came before the deal with the Saints was finalized, meaning Miami will carry $7.8MM in dead money for the linebacker on, rather than just $4.2MM.

8:21am: According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter), Ellerbe’s new deal includes a $1.5MM signing bonus and a $2.1MM roster bonus for 2015. That roster bonus will be paid out in April, and his $1.1MM base salary is fully guaranteed, per Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter). Ellerbe will also have annual $100K workout bonuses and $1MM in annual roster bonuses for 2016 and 2017, tweets Wilson.

8:09am: When the Saints and Dolphins agreed to a swap last week that sent wide receiver Kenny Stills to Miami in exchange for linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and a third-round pick, reports indicated that Ellerbe had agreed to rework his contract as part of the deal. NFLPA records suggest that change to the linebacker’s contract has now taken place, according to Evan Woodbery of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Per Woodbery, Ellerbe’s base salary for 2015 has been sliced from $8.5MM to a mere $1.1MM. The salaries for the final two years of his deal have also been reduced — 2016’s figure has gone from $6.45MM to $4.1MM, while 2017’s salary is also now $4.1MM (from $6MM).

Typically, as part of this sort of agreement, a player will receive something in return for agreeing to reduce his salary. That could mean getting an up-front signing bonus, having a portion of his salary guaranteed, or being able to earn back some or all of his lost salary in incentives. In Ellerbe’s case, those details haven’t been reported yet, but I expect they’ll surface eventually — it wouldn’t make sense if he simply agreed to take such a significant pay cut without being compensated in any way for it.

In New Orleans, Ellerbe appears poised to assume the inside linebacker spot vacated by Curtis Lofton, who was cut by the Saints and has since landed with the Raiders.

Dolphins Acquire Kenny Stills From Saints

1:30pm: The Saints have officially confirmed the trade, as reported (Twitter link).

12:40pm: As part of the swap, Ellerbe has agreed to restructure his deal for the Saints, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter).

11:51am: The Dolphins will send linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and a third-round pick to New Orleans for Stills, per Pro Football Talk (Twitter link). Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (Twitter link) first reported that the Saints would be getting a linebacker and a draft pick in the deal.

Ellerbe had been viewed as a likely cap casualty, given his $8.425MM base salary for 2015. I’d be surprised if the Saints are willing to pay him that much, or have the cap flexibility to accommodate that sort of number, so there may be a pay cut or restructure involved in the move.

The Dolphins will still carry $4.2MM on their 2015 cap in dead money for Ellerbe, but create $5.65MM in cap savings by moving him.

11:38am: The Saints are in the process of finalizing a trade that will send wide receiver Kenny Stills to the Dolphins, according to Rand Getlin of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter). We heard yesterday that the young wideout was among the many players the Saints were shopping as they overhaul their roster.

Stills, who turns just 23 next month, became an integral part of the Saints’ passing attack in 2014, hauling in 63 passes for 931 yards and three touchdowns. The Saints’ top deep threat, Stills have averaged 16.5 yards per catch since entering the league in 2013, and is on an inexpensive rookie contract for two more years, so it’s surprising that the team would be willing to move him.

Nonetheless, yesterday’s reports indicated that the Saints were shopping practically everyone on their roster, with the exception of Drew Brees and Brandin Cooks. Already this week, the team has completed deals that shipped longtime Saints Jimmy Graham and Ben Grubbs out of town.

As for the Dolphins, if they can finalize a trade for Stills, he’d be the second notable pass-catcher added by the team in the span of 24 hours. Miami also signed tight end Jordan Cameron to a contract last night.

After the Dolphins parted ways with Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson earlier in the offseason, it looked like Ryan Tannehill may not have many weapons at his disposal for the 2015 season, with Mike Wallace and Charles Clay also hanging in the balance. However, Wallace remains on the roster for now, despite his large cap hit, and Clay was given the transition tag by the club, though he may end up signing elsewhere now that Cameron is in the mix.