The Eagles should extend Derek Barnett’s contract this offseason
After a Week 17 loss to Washington, the Eagles are now in offseason mode. With massive roster changes likely looming and a large deficit in the salary cap, there are decisions to be made all over the roster and players such as Alshon Jeffery, Desean Jackson, and Zach Ertz are likely to be on their way out of Philadelphia.
While the 2021 free agency class for the Eagles lacks some major names, the 2022 class has some heavy hitters waiting on contract extensions. Brandon Graham, Jason Kelce, Jordan Mailata, and Rodney McLeod are some of the key players hitting the open market. This list also includes former 1st round selection Derek Barnett. Barnett is on the final year of his contract in 2021 after his 5th-year option was exercised.
Derek Barnett often comes as an afterthought on the defensive line compared to the presence of Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham who have been the staples of this Eagles defense for several years. While Barnett often gets the short end of the stick, he definitely is deserving of a contract extension from the Eagles.
Comparing him to Cox and Graham to when they were his age, Derek’s numbers are outstanding. Barnett was only one sack away from his career-high of 6.5 while playing fewer games in 2020. At 24 years old, Graham totaled the same number of sacks and one more tackle for loss in 2 more games played. Barnett also has 5 more QB hits than Graham did in 2012. When looking at Fletcher Cox, Barnett leads in sacks and QB hits while trailing by only two tackles for loss.
The numbers stacked up against the leaders are promising. Barnett definitely needs to grow more but the trajectory is looking upward. Injuries have affected Barnett who missed week 1 and the final two weeks of 2020. He also missed some time in 2019. Even with these injuries, Barnett continues to grow. Derek continues to break career highs in tackles and nearly met career highs in sacks, tackles for loss, and QB hits.
Cox and Graham are both over 30 and while they are dominant now, their end is likely in the near future. Philadelphia is able to continue through the next generation in Barnett and Josh Sweat who is even younger and had a fantastic breakout season. The need to lock up Barnett is key. The majority of the Eagles’ financial woes will be behind them at that point. Keeping him signed through his prime will be vital to the future success of the Eagles.
Mandatory Credit: Stacy Revere Getty Images