On a busy day of first cuts for the Eagles, linebacker Jamar Chaney became one of the team’s few veteran casualties.
Chaney, who was entering his fourth season, started 23 games for the Eagles at middle and outside linebacker but never cemented a starting job despite several opportunities. He and free-agent safety Kenny Phillips were each released Sunday as the Eagles trimmed their roster to 76.
The team must release one more player to get to the league-mandated 75-man roster by 4 p.m. Tuesday.
For most of the preseason, Chaney worked on the second string at inside linebacker in the team's new 3-4 scheme, implemented by first-year head coach Chip Kelly and defensive coordinator Bill Davis. His opportunity to make the team improved when inside linebacker Jason Phillips went down early in camp with a season-ending knee injury, but the emergence of rookie free agent Jake Knott and solid play by newcomer Emmanuel Acho gave the Eagles depth and cleared the way for them to cut ties with the under-performing veteran.
Chaney, seventh-round pick in 2010, is the sixth player from the '10 draft no longer with the team. The Eagles selected 13 players that year. Several others from that draft, including cornerback Trevard Lindley, tight end Clay Harbor and safeties Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman, are in jeopardy of not making the team. Lindley has already been cut and re-signed multiple times by the team.
Chaney was one of three seventh-round picks, 220th overall, and picked 23 spots ahead of defensive tackle Jeff Owens (243rd) and Coleman (244th). As a rookie, he replaced an injured Stewart Bradley at middle linebacker on Dec. 12 and made eight tackles in a road win against the Cowboys.
The following weekend in his first NFL start, Chaney racked up a team-best 16 tackles against the Giants and forced a fumble. Three weeks later, he started a first-round playoff game, made 11 tackles and registered his first interception.
The promising rookie year was an encouraging sign for the Eagles, who had struggled to find a replacement at the position since Jeremiah Trotter retired (for the first time). But the former Mississippi State linebacker never sustained that success.
In 2011, the Eagles moved him to the strong side, thinking his speed would come in handy against tight ends and in playing the run behind the team’s new wide-nine defensive line scheme. Two games into the season, after then-rookie Casey Matthews was removed from the starting lineup, Chaney was moved back to middle linebacker. He led the team with 104 tackles and finished second with 10 pass breakups but struggled to get off blocks and became one of the poster children for the defense’s lagging run defense.
Last year, after the team traded for Pro Bowl middle linebacker Demeco Ryans and drafted Mychal Kendricks in the second round, Chaney sunk to second on the depth chart behind Ryans and weak-side linebacker Akeem Jordan.
He mainly played special teams, but didn’t make a significant impact there. He started five games at outside linebacker but never registered more than eight tackles in a game and finished the year without a sack or an interception.