Eric Wilson

Eagles To Sign LB Eric Wilson

Eric Wilson is heading to Philly. The free agent linebacker is signing with the Eagles, reports NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo (via Twitter). It’s a one-year deal worth up to $3.25MM.

The former undrafted free agent spent the first four seasons of his career with the Vikings, evolving from a special teamer into one of the team’s best defenders. After starting 10 games through the first three seasons of his career, Wilson started 15 of his 16 games in 2020 and put up career numbers. He finished the campaign having compiled 122 tackles, three sacks, and three interceptions, earning him the nickname “walking turnover” from fellow linebacker Eric Kendricks.

New Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon has been busy bringing in former players, and Wilson is no exception; Gannon served as the Vikings assistant defensive backs coach during Wilson’s rookie season. Wilson also worked with Eagles linebackers coach Nick Rallis during their stints in Minnesota (per Zach Berman of The Athletic on Twitter).

In Philly, Wilson will likely retain his starting gig as the Eagles’ starting middle linebacker. The team is still rostering T.J. Edwards, who started 12 games for the Eagles in 2020.

Vikings Notes: Wilson, Mattison, Rudolph

Eric Wilson has been an unexpected surprise for the Vikings this season. The former undrafted free agent has been one of the best linebackers in the NFL, compiling 90 tackles, three interceptions, three sacks, and five tackles for loss. Per ESPN’s Courtney Cronin, the 26-year-old leads his position in combined interceptions, forced fumbles and opponent fumble recoveries (six total), and that’s earned him the nickname “walking turnover” from fellow linebacker Eric Kendricks.

Wilson didn’t miss a game through his first three seasons in the league, but he only started 10 contests. He’s started 11 games already this season, but his sudden improvement didn’t come as a huge surprise to the organization.

“Ever since Eric’s been here, he’s been able to back up both positions when Anthony [Barr] and Eric [Kendricks] were in there, and whoever went down, he just went in in that position,” co-defensive coordinator Adam Zimmer told Cronin. “It’s something he’s done in the past, which helps, but it’s a real tribute to the kid, how he just steps in and doesn’t miss a beat playing a completely different position in the sub [package].”

Wilson’s breakout season came at the right time; the linebacker is set to become an unrestricted free agent following the season.

Let’s check out some more notes out of Minnesota:

  • Vikings running back Alexander Mattison will miss another week as he recovers from surgery for appendicitis, per Chris Tomasson of TwinCities.com. The 22-year-old has appeared in 11 games this season, rushing for 338 yards and one touchdown on 74 carries. For the second-straight week, Mike Boone and Ameer Abdullah will serve as the backups to Dalvin Cook.
  • Meanwhile, tight end Kyle Rudolph is listed as doubtful for tomorrow’s game against the Buccaneers (per Tomasson). The veteran is currently dealing with a foot injury, but he’s determined to maintain his 98-game starting streak (including playoffs). “He’s a pretty fast healer, so we’ll just see,” said head coach Mike Zimmer. “He’s been getting a lot of treatment, and he wants to play really bad. So I don’t want to count him out yet.” The 31-year-old has 28 receptions for 334 yards and one touchdown this season.
  • With Mattison sidelined, the Vikings are eyeing some free agent running backs. Tomasson reports (via Twitter) that Khalfani Muhammad was in Minnesota this week for a workout with the Vikings. The California product was a seventh-round pick by the Titans in 2017, and he’s also spent time with the Patriots, Broncos, and Cardinals.
  • In case you missed it, the Vikings signed tight end Hale Hentges off the Colts practice squad earlier this week. The 2019 undrafted free agent out of Alabama saw time in 11 games for Washington last season, hauling in eight receptions for 103 yards and one touchdown.

Vikings Place Second-Round Tender On LB Eric Wilson

The Vikings aren’t going to let Eric Wilson get poached in free agency. Minnesota has tendered the restricted free agent at the second-round level, according to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link).

As Tomasson notes, the second-round tender is going to be worth a little bit over $3.1MM for 2020. The move ensures that if any team signs Wilson to an offer sheet and the Vikings decline to match, they’d get that team’s second-round pick in return. Wilson has been a solid contributor the past two seasons, but it’s extremely unlikely any team would give up that kind of pick for him, so he’ll almost certainly be back in Minnesota next season.

The Cincinnati product signed with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent back in 2017, and mostly played on special teams as a rookie. He has since become a nice diamond in the rough find, starting ten games over the past two years and playing a big role on defense.

This past year he played around 35 percent of the defensive snaps while still playing a lot on special teams. He made six starts and racked up 62 tackles and three sacks. The original-round tender is projected to be a little over $2.1MM but since he was undrafted the Vikings wouldn’t have gotten any compensation had he left in that scenario, so they decided to pony up and pay the extra $1MM to make sure he stays put.

Vikings Place LB Ben Gedeon On IR

Ben Gedeon‘s second concussion this season led to the Vikings shutting him down. Minnesota placed the starting linebacker on IR Monday and replaced him on the roster with practice squad wide receiver Alexander Hollins.

The Vikings ruled out Adam Thielen for Week 13, so Hollins will give them four healthy wideouts tonight against the Seahawks.

While Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks operate as the Vikings’ three-down linebackers, Gedeon has been a two-season starter. The 2017 fourth-round pick has started 22 games since his rookie year, helping balance out the Vikings’ veteran-heavy defense with a rookie contract. He’s been a starter in name only this season, playing only 102 snaps.

Gedeon’s second concussion occurred against the Broncos in Week 11. After a 53-tackle 2018, Gedeon finished with just 11 this season. This will move Eric Wilson (172 snaps this season) into Minnesota’s starting lineup, per Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link).

NFC North Notes: Bears, Vikings, Bellore

This Bills regime souring on Doug Whaley second-round pick Shaq Lawson could open the door to interesting trade talks as the season approaches. Still just 23, Lawson was a highly touted prospect at Clemson, which has produced some standout edge defenders in recent years. The Bears would be a reasonable landing spot for Lawson, Michael Walton of NBC Sports Chicago writes. Mostly going on Vic Fangio‘s ability to coax quality play from defenders, Walton writes Lawson would be an intriguing buy-low bet. He has two years remaining on his contract, and the Bears are somewhat thin on the edge behind Leonard Floyd. Lawson, though, has struggled as an NFLer in both the 3-4 and 4-3 schemes. Last season, Pro Football Focus did not view him as a strong pass rusher but did grade him as one of the better run defenders on the edge.

Here’s the latest from the NFC North, shifting to the Vikings’ linebacker situation.

  • Ben Gedeon may not be a lock to start in Vikings base sets alongside Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks. Instead, second-year UDFA Eric Wilson looked like an improved player this offseason and ready to push Gedeon for the weakside linebacker job, Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes. A 2017 fourth-rounder, Gedeon started nine games last season and played 272 snaps. Wilson did not play any despite seeing special teams action in all 16 regular-season games, but Krammer notes this will be a position battle in training camp. Wilson exceeded 100 tackles in each of his final two college seasons at Cincinnati.
  • Nick Bellore started two games at linebacker for the 2017 Lions and served as a 10-game starter for the 2016 49ers. But this season, he will be lining up at a new position. Bellore is now working as a fullback, and the team’s top one at that, Chris Burke of The Athletic notes (subscription required). He saw some action as a fullback last season but spent most of his time on special teams and as a part-time ‘backer. However, Detroit’s moved him to fullback full-time this offseason, per Burke, who adds the Jets tried to do this with Bellore previously. The Lions re-signed the 29-year-old fullback convert in March.
  • While Martellus Bennett received plenty of hype after joining the Packers last year, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com views Jimmy Graham as a better fit in Green Bay’s offense, adding the addition of the former Saints and Seahawks tight end is a “significant upgrade.” At the very least, the 31-year-old pass-catcher gives Aaron Rodgers a lethal red zone presence. Graham’s yards-per-catch average plummeted from 14.2 in 2016 to 9.1 last season, but he scored 10 touchdowns — by far his most in a season in Seattle.

Vikings Add 13 UDFAs

The Vikings have agreed to contracts with 13 undrafted free agents, reports Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune. Here’s the list:

Bower ($45K) and Bradley ($40K) received the largest financial commitments of the bunch, tweets Tom Pelissero of USA Today. Bower set personal bests in tackles (34), tackles for loss (5.5) and sacks (four) last season. Bradley was more productive than Bower, albeit against inferior competition, with 64 tackles, 15.5 for loss, and 8.5 sacks in 2016.