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Philadelphia Eagles bolster defense with LB Eric Wilson, re-sign RB Jordan Howard

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PHILADELPHIA — The Eagles have signed linebacker Eric Wilson and running back Jordan Howard to one year deals, the team announced Wednesday.

Wilson, 26, was tied for the league lead among linebackers with three interceptions in 2020, and he also had three sacks and eight passes defended to go with 122 tackles in his breakout season.

He is the second former Vikings defensive player to be signed by the Eagles this offseason along with safety Anthony Harris. Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon was a member of Minnesota’s coaching staff from 2014-17 — overlapping with Wilson for one year — and is expected to draw from coach Mike Zimmer’s system as he creates his own in Philadelphia.

Howard, 26, re-joined the Eagles last November after being waived by the Miami Dolphins. He was traded from the Chicago Bears to Philadelphia in 2019 and rushed for 525 yards and six touchdowns in 10 games before being slowed by injury. Howard will compete to be in the running back rotation along with Miles Sanders and Boston Scott.

Wilson’s rise with the Minnesota Vikings from undrafted free agent to special teams player to starting linebacker went into full effect in Week 2 of the 2020 season, when Anthony Barr exited with a torn pectoral muscle that required season-ending surgery.

From that point on, Wilson, who was previously the No. 3 linebacker, played 100% of the defensive snaps for the Vikings. He was the team’s only linebacker to play in every game last season.

At times, he struggled against the run, finishing with 20 missed tackles. His run defense grade of 38.3 was the lowest of any linebacker who played a minimum of 80% of the snaps last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

ESPN’s Courtney Cronin contributed to this report.

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Jacksonville Jaguars waive RB Ryquell Armstead

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars waived running back Ryquell Armstead, who missed the entire 2020 season because of complications related to COVID-19.

Armstead, 24, was twice placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list last season. He spent 19 days on the list the first time, then dealt with a groin injury and another illness before going back on the list. Players are placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list if they test positive for the virus or have been in close contact with someone who has.

Armstead was a fifth-round pick in 2019 and ran for 108 yards on 35 carries as a rookie. He was likely to have a larger role on offense last season with the team’s decision to cut Leonard Fournette, but undrafted rookie James Robinson went on to win the starting job and ran for 1,070 yards and seven touchdowns, and catch 49 passes for 344 yards and three TDs.

The Jaguars drafted former Clemson running back Travis Etienne 25th overall last month.

Also on Monday, the Jaguars announced they’ve signed sixth-round draft pick Jalen Camp, a wide receiver from Georgia Tech.

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San Francisco 49ers sign receiver Marqise Lee after tryout

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The San Francisco 49ers signed veteran wide receiver Marqise Lee to a one-year contract Monday after he tried out for the team at its rookie minicamp over the weekend.

He caught passes from 49ers rookie quarterback Trey Lance on Friday during the portion of practice open to the media. The 49ers waived wide receiver Austin Proehl on Monday to fit Lee on their 90-man roster.

Lee, 29, opted out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic after signing with the New England Patriots as a free agent. The Patriots released him in March.

The 2014 second-round draft choice out of USC spent the first six years of his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars, having signed a four-year contract worth $34 million in March 2018. But he played in only six games after signing that big deal, having missed the 2018 season after suffering a torn ACL, MCL and PCL in his left knee during the preseason.

He joins a 49ers wide receiver depth chart led by Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and Richie James that currently includes Trent Sherfield, Jalen Hurd, Travis Benjamin and Mohamed Sanu, among others.

Lee has 174 catches for 2,184 yards and eight touchdowns in 59 career games.

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Denver Broncos add Minnesota Vikings’ Kelly Kleine to front office in historic scouting hiring

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The Denver Broncos have hired Kelly Kleine as the executive director of football operations and special advisor to general manager George Paton, the team announced Monday.

Kleine, 30, is believed to be the highest-ranking female scouting executive ever with an NFL team.

“Kelly is a rising star in the NFL, and we’re fortunate to add someone of her caliber to the Denver Broncos,” Paton said in a statement announcing the news. “Having worked with her for nine years in Minnesota, Kelly has a strong understanding of all aspects of football operations and player evaluation along with outstanding leadership qualities. She will be a tremendous resource with her experience on the pro and college sides as well as her knowledge of our grading scale and football calendar.”

Kleine will be the primary liaison for the team’s football operations and oversee various areas of the pro and college scouting departments, including player evaluation and preparation for the NFL draft and free agency. She will also oversee the Broncos video and equipment departments.

Kleine spent 10 seasons in Minnesota where she most recently served as the manager of player personnel and was also a college scout. The Wisconsin native got her start in the NFL as a public relations intern with the Vikings in 2012, while finishing her undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota. She entered the scouting department as an administration intern in 2013 before becoming a scouting assistant in 2014 before being promoted to the team’s college scouting coordinator from 2015-18.

As the manager of player personnel/college scout, Kleine scouted the Midwest region and was the liaison between all off-site scouts and the front office. Her job in scouting carried operations responsibilities in Minnesota where she scheduled and facilitated predraft visits as well as interviews for the Vikings at the annual scouting combine.

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