Report: Eagles still have hope in Derek Barnett entering the 2023 season
If you forgot former first-round pass rusher Derek Barnett was still on the Philadelphia Eagles roster, I wouldn’t blame you. After signing a two-year, $14 million deal to remain in Philly last offseason, Barnett tore his ACL in Week 1 and missed the entire 2022 campaign.
With the amount of quality edge rushers populating the Eagles defensive front, Barnett is easy to overlook. But that doesn’t mean the team has completely lost faith him, according to JAKIB Sports’ Derrick Gunn.
On JAKIB’s Sports Takes show, Gunn said the Eagles aren’t ready to give up on their former first-round pick.
Gunn’s full quote on the Eagles pass rusher:
“In no way, shape, or form is this team ready to give up on Derek Barnett yet. Say what you want to say about him. You can talk about the lost season, and look at the numbers they put up without him last year. You can talk about his mental mistakes from previous years. But Derek Barnett does have talent. He has capability. I don’t think they’re ready to give up on him yet. The contract that he’s under right now is not restraining them in any way, shape, or form. The only way Derek Barnett doesn’t make this team is Derek Barnett plays his way out of being among the Philadelphia Eagles in 2023. Barnett has the opportunity to come in here and contribute significantly, and he should be self-motivated because he had to sit here and watch what this team accomplished without him.”
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As it stands, Barnett is probably fifth in the Eagles’ pass rushing pecking order. We have Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat as the primary starters, with Brandon Graham and rookie Nolan Smith as the likely first substitutes off the bench. You could do a lot worse than Barnett as the fifth pass rusher in the rotation.
It’s important to note that the Eagles will incur a $10.6M dead cap hit if they cut bait before the season, per Spotrac. If there was an easy way to just move on without any major cap ramifications, Barnett would probably already be gone.
Given his contract and the current makeup of the defensive front, giving Barnett one final shot to contribute in a meaningful way makes sense. He provides solid injury insurance if one of the top-four pass rushers goes down and it’s not like he’s a complete dud on the field. Barnett can play, it’s his tendency to do stupid shit (cheap shots, dirty plays, etc.) that makes him unbearable to watch at times.
Hopefully with his new role as a depth piece, his opportunities to hand the opposing team a free 15 yards on a penalty decreases drastically.
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