The Philadelphia Eagles released veteran linebacker DeMeco Ryans, according to an official announcement from the team. Eagles head coach Doug Pederson and executive vice president Howie Roseman are expected to discuss the move during their press conference at the NFL Combine on Wednesday afternoon.
This news isn't very surprising. Ryans, who turns 32 in July, was a prime target to be a salary cap casualty. His 2016 cap hit was set to be $4.5 million. The Eagles save $3.5 million by releasing him now.
Cutting Ryans was an easy decision from a business perspective. He's not the same player he once was, especially after suffering multiple Achilles injuries. He had one of the worst tackling efficiency rates of any linebacker in the NFL last season. He also looked a step too slow in coverage too often.
The decision to release Ryans might not have been so easy from an emotional perspective. Ryans has been a team leader on defense since arriving in Philadelphia in 2012. He's affectionately called "Mufasa" by his teammates. Ryans was also the Eagles' primary NFLPA representative. He'll be missed in the locker room.
With Ryans gone, the Eagles will likely move forward with standout rookie Jordan Hicks at middle linebacker. Hicks earned the nickname of "Simba" by his Eagles teammates. It's up to him to fill the shoes as the team's next leader in the middle of the defense.
Eagles fans were very excited about the acquisition of Ryans back in 2012. The team lacked stability at inside linebacker and Ryans finally provided that. Ryans started 53 games during his Eagles career. It was thought the Eagles might cut him last offseason but Chip Kelly gave him an short-term extension instead. Now he's gone.