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Saints Add Free-Agent LB to Bolster Thin Unit

Lost in the excitement of rookie camp and the signing of Jarvis Landry, New Orleans also made a move to bolster their linebacking corps.
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Amid the official signing of WR Jarvis Landry and rookie mini-camp over the weekend, the New Orleans Saints also quietly bolstered their linebacker depth. On Monday, the Saints signed free-agent LB Eric Wilson, most recently with the Houston Texans.

Wilson, 27, played collegiately at Cincinnati before signing with the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted rookie in 2017. He didn't play any defensive snaps as a rookie, but saw extensive action on special teams in all 16 games. His defensive responsibilities increased in 2018, with Wilson recording 2 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, and 5 pressures in a reserve role.

Green Bay Packers tight end Jace Sternberger (87) tackled by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Wilson (50). © William Glasheen via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Green Bay Packers tight end Jace Sternberger (87) tackled by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Wilson (50). © William Glasheen via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Wilson started six games for the Vikings in 2019 and saw action in every contest. He had 3 sacks, 5 QB hits, and 6 tackles for loss.

A season-ending injury to Anthony Barr in 2020 thrust Wilson into a full-time starting role. He’d respond by leading the Vikings with 122 tackles, which included a team-high 8 for loss. He also had 3 sacks, 10 pressures, 3 interceptions, and broke up 8 passes.

A free agent in 2021, Wilson signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. Despite an interception, he never worked his way into the starting lineup and was released at mid-season. He’d finish the year with Houston, playing mostly on special teams.

At 6’1” and 230-Lbs., Wilson can play both inside or outside linebacker spots. He brings 27 games of starting experience and has 4 interceptions, 8 sacks, and 19 tackles for loss in 78 career games. He’s also been a consistent special teams performer.

Wilson's addition adds experience to a thin New Orleans linebacking corps. He’s not strong in man coverage, but has excellent awareness in zones and good positioning as a run defender.

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Vikings linebacker Eric Wilson (50) sacks Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9). Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings linebacker Eric Wilson (50) sacks Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9). Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Wilson is expected to back up starters Demario Davis and Pete Werner. The Saints still have LB Kaden Elliss, a solid run defender, and athletic rookie fifth-round pick D'Marco Jackson. Kwon Alexander, a key part of the defense the last two years, remains unsigned.

Alexander could still be brought back. He’s coming off his best season and has incredible chemistry with Demario Davis. However, the addition of Eric Wilson provides an experienced option behind the starters and addresses an area of defensive concern.

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