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December 28, 2016

Eagles stay or go: Inside linebackers

Eagles NFL
122616JordanHicks Chris Szagola/AP

Jordan Hicks is the quarterback of the Eagles' defense.

The 2016 Philadelphia Eagles season is essentially over, so with one game remaining, we'll continue to look ahead to the offseason. As a starting point, let's take a look at each position and figure out which players will be back in 2017. Today we'll look at the inside linebackers.

In case you missed our previous positional previews:

Quarterbacks | Running backs | Wide receivers | Tight ends | Offensive tackles
Guards | Centers | Defensive ends | Defensive tackles | Outside linebackers

Jordan Hicks

In 2016, Hicks had 80 tackles, 1 sack, 3 INTs, 9 pass breakups, and four tackles for loss. He didn't make quite as many huge plays as he did his rookie season (considering he only played in eight games in 2015), but he certainly had a good follow-up to an impressive rookie season.

MORE ON THE EAGLES: Carson Wentz and Mike Trout have been hanging out over the holidays in New Jersey | Week 17 NFL picks | Eagles 2017 opponents | Jerry Jones says Cowboys won't rest starters vs. Eagles | In an instant, Carson Wentz shows he is The Answer for Eagles | Projecting the futures for the Eagles' 2016 draft class

The Eagles have their young quarterback of the future on offense in Carson Wentz, and their young quarterback of the future on defense in Hicks. Obviously, Hicks will be back in 2017, and he should be a piece along with Fletcher Cox, Malcolm Jenkins, and Brandon Graham that the Eagles build around.

#JimmyVerdict: Stay.

Your verdict:

Stephen Tulloch

Fearing a lack of depth as the regular season was approaching, the Eagles signed Tulloch, a former Schwartz fave, to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million. However, Hicks, Nigel Bradham and Mychal Kendricks stayed healthy all season long, so Tulloch's services weren't needed.

On the season, Tulloch played just 53 total snaps (6.1 percent) in the regular defense, and he did not play at all on special teams. The Eagles would be wise to find younger, cheaper linebacker depth in 2017.

#JimmyVerdict: Go.

Your verdict:

Joe Walker

We haven't been profiling players who did not make the 53-man roster, but we'll make an exception with Walker, who would have made it if he hadn't torn his ACL against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the preseason.

Walker will have to show that he has recovered fully from his injury. Assuming he will, Walker was looking like a Schwartz favorite during training camp and should be back as a backup middle linebacker to Hicks as well as a special teams contributor.

#JimmyVerdict: Stay.

Your verdict:

#JimmyVerdict Stay or Go Results

Green = Stay

Orange = No need to release before training camp, but ideally the Eagles will have found an upgrade

Red = Go

 QBCarson Wentz Chase Daniel    
 RBRyan Mathews Darren Sproles Wendell Smallwood Kenjon Barner  
 WRJordan Matthews Nelson Agholor Dorial Green-Beckham Bryce Treggs Paul Turner 
 TEZach Ertz Brent Celek Trey Burton   
 LTJason Peters Matt Tobin Dillon Gordon   
 LGAllen Barbre Stefen Wisniewski    
 CJason Kelce Josh Andrews    
 RGBrandon Brooks Isaac Seumalo    
 RTLane Johnson Halapoulivaati Vaitai    
 DEBrandon Graham Connor Barwin  Vinny CurryMarcus Smith Steven Means 
 DTFletcher Cox Bennie Logan Beau Allen Destiny Vaeao Taylor Hart 
 OLBNigel Bradham Mychal Kendricks Kamu Grugier-Hill Najee Goode  
 ILBJordan Hicks Stephen Tulloch Joe Walker   
 Head coach     
 Defensive coordinator     

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