Free Agency Outlook: what should the Eagles do with Derek Barnett?
The Eagles have several players entering free agency this offseason, and most are wanted back by the entire fanbase like Jason Kelce and Jordan Howard.
However, one of the more controversial free agents in recent memory is hitting the market in 2022, former first-round pick Derek Barnett. The Eagles’ defensive end has had a quality career, but many are upset about his lack of production compared to where he was selected.
Alongside that, Barnett has found himself giving up a penalty almost once a game that puts the opposing team back on the field or in a position to score. During the middle of the Eagles’ season, Nick Sirianni was even caught on camera complaining about it.
After a lot of hype going into 2021, the Eagles’ defensive end unfortunately, failed to live up to expectations. I was an avid supporter of Barnett and had a lot of faith he would step up, but I was proven wrong. The Eagles exercised Barnett’s 5th-year option last offseason with hopes that he’d prove worthy of a long-term extension. He then posted a career-low 2.0 sacks and 11 QB hits during the 2021 season.
As we all know, sacks don’t tell the whole story and Barnett did generate 46 tackles — most of his career. But he continues to make undisciplined mistakes and has become more of a headache than anything. It’s probably best to walk away when a player has more penalties (8) than sacks on the year.
Philadelphia has a lot of holes to fill, and edge rusher is one of them. But they paid a lot of money to extend Josh Sweat and will need to look to spend the remainder of their cap space to bolster their secondary amongst other positions. There’s a chance Barnett could sign back on a “prove-it” deal, but the Eagles could find just as good of a replacement during the draft without the significant cap hit.
Jonathan Gannon used DB in a lot of unique positions this past season, and he just wasn’t cut out for it. Barnett is a good traditional edge rusher, but Gannon had him often as a standup defensive end who would drop back into coverage at times.
That just isn’t the type of player Barnett is and it was an overall clunky fit. Gannon may want to bring in someone who fits that role better this offseason instead of making Barnett work in that role.
At the end of the day, Barnett isn’t a bad football player, but his negatives combined with the Eagles’ cap space and other needs leave him as the odd man out. We will forever be thankful for his fumble recovery in Super Bowl 52, but it’s time to move on from Derek Barnett.
Mandatory Credit: 97.5