Eagles land LB Zach Brown, seven years after bypassing him in NFL Draft

Ed Kracz

Seven years after they bypassed him in the NFL Draft, the Eagles signed linebacker Zach Brown to a one-year contract worth $3 million on Friday morning.

Later in the day, the team added their second safety of the week, agreeing to a deal with Blake Countess, who the Eagles actually selected in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

Countess was released after training camp that year and piced up by the Rams. He played 37 games in three seasons with Los Angeles, making two interceptions.

Executive Vice President of Football Operations Howie Roseman said after the three-day NFL Draft ended last Saturday night, that “talent-acquisition season has not ended. We have a long way to go before we play a game, and then we have a long way to go before the trade deadline. We're not going on vacation now; we're going to continue to try to do whatever we can to support Coach (Doug Pederson) and his staff, and we take that part of it seriously.”

Indeed, Roseman is making good on his word.

In addition to Brown and Countess, they added safety Godwin Igwebuike off the waiver wire on Tuesday.

With only five picks in this past draft, linebacker and safety were two positions the Eagles did not address.

Brown has more tackles than any other linebacker over the past three seasons other than the Seahawks’ Bobby Wagner. He was the 52nd overall pick of the Tennessee Titans in 2012.

Quick history lesson: The Eagles took Mychal Kendricks six picks earlier than Brown, at No. 46 overall. That started a bit of a linebacker flurry, with Wagner going No. 47 and Lavonte David No. 58.

Brown has 632 tackles since entering the league, with 372 of them coming in the last three seasons. In 2016, he made his one and only Pro Bowl, doing so as a member of the Buffalo Bills.

Wagner has 981 tackles, 51 for loss. He is a five-time Pro Bowl player and a four-time All-Pro.

David has 884 tackles, 106 for loss. He has made one Pro Bowl and been an All-Pro once.

As for Kendricks, it’s difficult to make case that he wasn’t the right pick, because he played a big hand in helping the Eagles make their Super Bowl run in 2017. He spent six years with the Eagles, collecting 454 tackles, 40 for loss. Kendricks was released following the Eagles’ Super Bowl LII victory and is now a member of the Seahawks.

Kendricks, though, is awaiting sentencing on federal insider trader charges, a verdict that could be reach this summer.

This will be Brown’s fourth team after four years with the Titans, one with the Bills, and the last two with the Redskins. He is a physical player who has made 74 career starts.

Though he can play inside or out, he played mostly middle linebacker in his career. If the Eagles move him into the middle, Bigel Bradham will return to the outside. Bradham played outside until Jordan Hicks suffered a season-ending injury midway through the 2017 season. Hicks was back in the middle to start the 2018 season, but he got hurt again and when he returned the Eagles kept Bradham in the middle.

Hicks departed for Arizona in free agency, but the Eagles also signed linebackers Paul Worrilow and L.J. Fort to one-year deals this offseason. Returning linebackers include Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nate Gerry, and B.J. Bello, who was added to the practice squad halfway through last season.