When the Eagles waived linebacker Christian Ellis on Wednesday, they were hopeful he would clear waivers so they could bring him back to their practice squad.
Instead, they lost him. The Patriots were awarded Ellis on waivers. And six teams (Patriots, Cardinals, Titans, Falcons, Broncos and Dolphins) claimed the 24-year-old linebacker, ESPN’s Field Yates informed of.
“We knew he had some good special teams, I thought he had a good game the other day as well. “We were hoping (he cleared waivers),” Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said. “But you know, it’s nice to have Christian back on his feet. But, obviously, we were hoping to get him back. He is in a good place. And I wish him all the best.
Ultimately, this appears to be a miscalculation by the Eagles’ front office. The team waited until Wednesday to release Ellis, presumably hoping to hold him undercover.
The Eagles had other options to make a roster spot for incoming linebacker Shaq Leonard. First, they could put Leonard on the practice squad to start. But they could also cut Albert Okwuegbunam, who is now back at fourth tight end.
Instead, they traded away a 24-year-old linebacker who is coming off some tough games on defense, but who has been a special teams mainstay. It’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. The Eagles are 10-2 and the loss of a special teams linebacker isn’t going to sink the season; But it was a strange decision.
The Eagles have four off-ball linebackers on their 53-man roster: Zach Cunningham, Nicholas Morrow, Leonard and Ben VanSumeren. Sirianni said Friday he feels “good” about the Eagles’ situation.
However, where the Eagles may really miss Ellis is on special teams.
Had the Eagles signed Ellis to the practice squad, he would have been eligible to be promoted to game days three times. That’s probably why the Eagles waived him instead of VanSumeren, who had already been raised to the maximum three times this season.
In 2023, Ellis has played more special teams snaps than any player on the roster. Ellis leads the Eagles with 238 special teams snaps, ahead of Kelly Ringo (225), Josh Jobe (212), Patrick Johnson (189) and Nolan Smith (166).
Who will fill the void left by Michael Clay’s impressive special teams units?
“Obviously, it’s not always just one specific person over another,” Sirianni said. “But some other guys, we’ll have a bunch of different guys taking up positions on all his different teams. Really excited about Ben and what he’s been able to contribute on special teams. But we’ll miss Christian’s contributions and we’ve been really good on special teams this year.”
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