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More for defense: Eagles agree to terms with LB Jatavis Brown

Now, it's linebacker.

The Eagles continue to work the free agency market as they've agreed to terms with linebacker Jatavis Brown on a one-year deal on Saturday afternoon.

Selected in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, Brown started 23 games for the Chargers in four seasons and was given an overall grade of 80.8 by Pro Football Focus after his first season, second highest among all rookie linebackers behind only Atlanta's Deion Jones (83.0). The Pro Football Writers Association named Brown to its All-Rookie Team.

The 5-11, 221-pounder had a limited role for the Chargers late in the 2019 season, but the Eagles see him as an undersized, explosive linebacker and good athlete who is best in space. He can play in base and sub packages. He improves the defensive speed at linebacker and, in a way, is similar in skill set to former Eagle Kamu Grugier-Hill, who reportedly signed as an unrestricted free agent with Miami, and current Eagle Duke Riley.

Brown will also compete at special teams (18 career special teams tackles, seven last season) and battle for playing time at a linebacker position that currently includes Riley, Nathan Gerry, and T.J. Edwards.

Certainly, Brown will be hungry for playing time. He was a standout at Akron, recording 11.5 quarterback sacks and 19 tackles for loss among his 119 total tackles in 2015 when he earned MAC Defensive Player of the Year honors. A Combine snub, Brown ran a 4.44 in the 40-yard dash and leaped 125 inches at Akron's Pro Day, both very impressive numbers.

As recently as the 2018 season, Brown was a huge part of the Chargers' defense under coordinator Gus Bradley, who joined Los Angeles a season earlier.

"I think another year in a system you're seeing him play faster," Bradley said. "... He's always been fast, but the ability to recognize and react quicker than he has in the past, I think that's really been evident for him."

In 2019, though, Brown missed part of Training Camp recovering from an ankle injury that kept him out of the postseason the year before, and he was relegated mostly to special teams play in the 13 games, with one start, in which he participated.

Said Chargers Head Coach Anthony Lynn of Brown in 2018: "He has versatility. He plays MIKE (middle), he plays WILL (weak side). He comes in and plays nickel; he plays dime. He knows the defense very well and we were very fortunate to have someone like him on our team when Denzel (Perryman) went down, and we could just plug a guy in."

The Chargers heralded Brown as a leader of the defense and of the linebacking corps in 2018, but that high ankle sprain suffered late in the season lingered deep into the 2019 summer and Brown didn't recover his playing time. He was on the field for at least 500 defensive snaps in each of his first three seasons.

With the Eagles, he has a fresh start in a linebacker group that is wide open. The Eagles released starter Nigel Bradham prior to free agency and then Grugier-Hill moved on to Miami. It's a young group with athleticism, as Brown, in his fifth season, becomes the current elder statesman of the room.

It's been a busy week for the Eagles as they've added tackle Javon Hargrave and cornerback Darius Slay to the defense while retaining safety Rodney McLeod, defensive back Jalen Mills, and tackle Hassan Ridgeway.

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