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Getting To Know Dannell Ellerbe

All of the attention in the recent Kenny Stills trade has been on Stills himself, but here we take a look at the player the Saints received in return, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Just days ago, the New Orleans Saints traded their young standout wide receiver Kenny Stills to the Miami Dolphins for a 3rd round pick (78th overall) in the 2015 Draft and one of their linebackers.  The linebacker the Saints received was six-year NFL veteran Dannell Ellerbe.

The 29 year-old Ellerbe stands at 6'1", 245 lbs and was picked up as an undrafted free agent out of Georgia by the Baltimore Ravens in 2009.  He spent the first four years of his career as a reserve to future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, seeing regular time as a spot-starter.  In his final season in Baltimore, Ellerbe was a part of the Ravens team that won Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.

Like many players before him, Ellerbe parlayed his Super Bowl success into a large free agent contract the following season.  In 2013, he signed a 5 year contract worth an astonishing $35 million with the Miami Dolphins.  Ellerbe finished his first season in Miami with 101 tackles, 2 INTS, 2 fumbles recovered, and 1 sack as the starting middle linebacker.  In 2014, Ellerbe was moved to outside linebacker but suffered a season-ending hip injury in the first quarter of their Week 1 game against New England.

Although it had not been officially confirmed, it was fairly obvious that Miami was intending to release Ellerbe as a post-June 1st cut if no trade partner had been found.  It stands to reason that Stills for a draft pick (or potentially picks) was what the Saints had in mind for the trade, but Miami likely insisted Ellerbe be added to the transaction in order to finalize it.  His cap number was just too high, considering his output and spending his entire 2014 season on injured reserve.

Unsurprisingly, the Saints have restructured Ellerbe's contract in order to make it more "cap friendly".  As of now, no details of the restructure have been released, but it's safe to assume that its far below the $8.4 million he was originally due in 2015.  At first glance, Ellerbe appearts to be a jack-of-all-trades type linebacker who's versatility may prove to be quite valuable in Rob Ryan's scheme.

Dannell Ellerbe isn't "the answer" at linebacker for the Saints, but with a cap friendly number he's just what the Saints need right now, depth at linebacker, veteran depth.  The Saints will likely be taking their fare share of all positions of linebacker in this year's draft and in post-draft free agency.  The Saints will need some veteran leadership following the release of Curtis Lofton, and although Ellerbe may not become All-Pro in New Orleans, he will provide invaluable depth and leadership at a very crucial time for the franchise.