If you’re a linebacker or safety with two to seven years professional job experience, Howie Roseman wants to talk to you.
The Eagles claimed safety Blake Countess off waivers from the Los Angeles Rams on Friday. It’s a another one of Howie’s famous 1-year deals worth up to $2 million if Countess makes the team.
If the name sounds familiar, Countess was a sixth-round pick of the Eagles in 2016 out of Auburn. The 5-10, 191-pound Countess signed with the Rams shortly after being released at the end of his rookie Training Camp. In three seasons, Countess played in 37 games (4 starts) and posted 39 tackles, two interceptions, and one sack on defense.
This past season, Countess led the Rams with five special teams tackles and was also the primary kickoff returner averaging 24.6 yards per return. Countess has scored two touchdowns in his NFL career, both off blocked punts. His first one came against the Eagles in 2017. In Week 3 of the 2018 campaign, Countess earned NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors for recovering a blocked punt in the end zone against the Chargers.
A graduate transfer at Auburn, Countess posted 71 tackles in his senior season. In three years at Michigan, Countess started 30 games and was a two-time All-Big Ten selection.
The Eagles have made a number of moves at safety this offseason. First, Rodney McLeod’s contract was reworked for the 2019 season. Veteran Andrew Sendejo, a former starter for the Vikings, was signed in free agency. Earlier this week, Godwin Igwebuike was claimed off waivers. Now, add Countess to the mix that includes Malcolm Jenkins, Tre Sullivan, and Deiondre’ Hall.
Think competition, depth and special teams, in that order, EYE guess.
The Eagles also signed free agent linebacker Zach Brown, who started 12 games last season for Washington and has been a productive and dependable player in his first seven NFL seasons. It’s a 1-year deal worth up to $3 million.
A Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro selection in 2016 with the Bills, the 29-year-old Brown spent the past two seasons with Washington. In his first seven NFL seasons, the 6-1, 250-pound linebacker has 631 tackles, 17.5 sacks, seven interceptions, and 20 pass deflections in 94 career games (74 starts).
This past season, Brown posted 96 tackles in 16 games (12 starts), including a season-high 11 in the Week 17 matchup against the Eagles. In 2017, Brown was the league’s leader in tackles with 127 before missing the final three games of the season due to injury. He still led the team and also added 2.5 sacks and two pass deflections.
A second-round pick out of North Carolina in 2012, Brown played his first four NFL seasons with the Tennessee Titans. He capped off a stellar rookie season by tying an NFL record with two interception returns for touchdowns in the season finale against Jacksonville. In 16 games (14 starts) that year, Brown had 92 tackles as well as 5.5 sacks and three interceptions, both personal bests.
Born in Beaufort, South Carolina, Brown was a three-sport star at Wilde Lake High School in Columbia, Maryland. He was undefeated as a wrestler and became the school’s first state champion in track, winning titles in the 100- and 200-meter events.
Brown joins a position group that has Nigel Bradham, Nathan Gerry, and Kamu Grugier-Hill returning of the linebackers who saw time on the Eagles’ defense in 2018. The Eagles also signed L.J. Fort from the Steelers in free agency. B.J. Bello chipped in last year for the Eagles on special teams, while veteran Paul Worrilow missed the season due to injury.
Meanwhile voluntary conditioning workouts continued at the NovaCare complex. The rest of the OTA schedule:
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 21-23, May 28, May 30-31, June 3-6.
Mandatory Minicamp: June 11-13.