By Nick Shook
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Dannell Ellerbe is getting another shot at a postseason run.
The veteran linebacker has signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, the team announced on Monday. The Eagles also waived cornerback Dexter McDougle in anticipation of the return of cornerback Ronald Darby, who lined up with the first team in practice and expects to play Sunday, per NJ.com.
Ellerbe last played with the New Orleans Saints in 2016, appearing in nine games in which he recorded 44 tackles and four sacks. The Saints placed Ellerbe on injured reserve with a foot injury in July and waived him after he was cleared to play in August, electing to move forward with younger backs Alex Anzalone and Craig Robertson. Ellerbe, who turned 32 on Nov. 29, has been without a team since August.
Ellerbe’s agency hailed the signing as “the final piece to the Eagles’ Super Bowl puzzle” on Twitter on Sunday.
Ellerbe brings depth to an Eagles linebacking corps that lost Jordan Hicks to a ruptured achilles tendon on Oct. 23. With Hicks sidelined, backup middle linebacker Joe Walker played in his place against San Francisco, logging 28 defensive snaps. But a week later against Denver, Walker played just 12 snaps as the Eagles opted to swap out a linebacker for a defensive back, going with the Nickel sub package on 41 of 60 defensive plays, per Next Gen Stats. In these scenarios, Philadelphia slid outside linebacker Mychal Kendricks toward the middle of the defense, replacing him with an in-box safety, or aligned fellow outside backer Nigel Bradham and Kendricks over the defensive tackles in a 4-2-5 look.
This should give a glimpse of how the Eagles would work in Ellerbe, either by sliding Bradham or Kendricks over (Bradham seems like the more logical choice of the two), and replacing the vacant outside position with Ellerbe, or possibly using the playmaking Ellerbe in the middle. With his injury history, though, it’s more likely Philadelphia would go with the younger backers than Ellerbe, who has appeared in just 16 games combined over his last three seasons.