The Philadelphia Eagles have signed former Vikings linebacker Eric Wilson to a one-year deal worth up to $3.25 million, as first reported by NFL Network's Mike Garafolo.
After signing Nick Vigil earlier this offseason — a move that was just made official on Tuesday — the Vikings were clearly not going to bring back Wilson. In the end, they save around $1 million on their No. 3 linebacker spot, because Vigil's contract is a one-year deal worth up to $2.25 million with a 2021 cap hit of $1.73 million.
Wilson stuffed the stat sheet in his first year as a full-time starter in 2020. Pressed into action when Anthony Barr went down with a season-ending injury in Week 2, Wilson played over 1,000 defensive snaps and racked up 122 tackles, three interceptions, three sacks, a forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries. For a while, it even seemed like Wilson might have been making Barr expendable for the Vikings this offseason.
But with Wilson, the stats don't tell the whole story. He's an ultra-athletic linebacker who can be excellent in coverage; he allowed a passer rating of just 78.9 on 64 targets in his coverage last year. However, he's a major liability against the run, especially when playing an every-down role. Wilson ranked 71st out of 82 qualified LBs in PFF run defense grade last season. He regularly gets washed out of plays or fills the wrong gap, and tackling is also a major issue. Wilson was charged with 20 missed tackles last season, which is more than Barr had in his last three full seasons (2017-19).
For that price, Wilson is a solid pickup for the Eagles. It'll be interesting to see how much of his deal is guaranteed and how much of it comes in incentives. Wilson's success in Philly will all depend on how they use him.
Wilson joins safety Anthony Harris as Vikings free agents to sign with the Eagles this offseason. Those were Minnesota's top two in-house UFAs, and now they get to remain teammates. The Eagles landing those two for a combined cap hit of less than $8 million is pretty good value, especially if Harris returns to his 2018-19 form. The Giants (Kyle Rudolph, Ifeadi Odenigbo) and Broncos (Shamar Stephen, Mike Boone) also signed multiple ex-Vikings this offseason.
Vigil is a fairly similar player to Wilson, so the Vikings won't miss him too much. Vigil isn't quite on Wilson's level in coverage, but he makes up for that by being better against the run. Vigil will look to hold off players like Troy Dye, Ryan Connelly, and Cameron Smith for the Vikings' No. 3 LB job behind Eric Kendricks and Barr.
Wilson, 26, was signed by the Vikings as an undrafted free agent out of Cincinnati in 2017. He played a rotational role in 2018 and 2019 before being thrust into a much bigger role last year.
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