Edge rusher Connor Barwin recently aired his intentions to the football world that he wants to return to Philadelphia to play for the Eagles.
Due to salary cap issues, Philadelphia released Barwin at the conclusion of the 2016-2017 season, saving nearly $8 million in cap space. This move paved the way for the Eagles to lure Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffrey to Philadelphia, two players who proved to be instrumental in the Eagles Super Bowl 52 run.
Unfortunately, Barwin’s calls for a reunion may go unanswered as the Eagles simply do not have a need for him. Here’s why.
Chris Long’s Position Has Been Filled
The Eagles don’t have a need for additional edge rushers at this time. Despite the retirement of Chris Long, the acquisitions of Vinny Curry and Shareef Miller fills the void that Long created.
Curry didn’t have the greatest year last year in Tampa due to injuries, but the Eagles are expecting Curry to display his abilities at stopping the run and applying pressure to the quarterback. In 2017, Curry was tied for eighth in combined tackles among defensive lineman. In addition, Miller exemplified exceptional tackling abilities at Penn State, making 100 combined tackles in three seasons. Miller also has great timing when it comes to getting a jump on the snap which will help to further develop his skills as an NFL pass rusher. Defensive end Josh Sweat is also expected to take on a bigger role now that Long is gone, having much to prove after virtually being ineffective last season.
The Secondary Is a Bigger Cause for Concern
The current needs of the team must also be considered. Philadelphia has many more questions surrounding their secondary as opposed to their defensive front.
Questions continue to linger about how healthy corners Ronald Darby and Sydney Jones will be, as both have yet to play a full season with the team.
Jalen Mills and Rasul Douglas were both marred by inconsistency and despite the praise that Avonte Maddox receives for his performance, it is important to note that Maddox only faced 33 targets the entire year. When Maddox faced a higher number of targets in the playoffs, he performed horribly, surrendering 13 receptions for 264 yards in the Eagles two playoff games.
Although the return of Rodney McLeod and the signing of free agent Andrew Sendejo helps to strengthen the secondary, questions must be asked about the health of both players. McLeod’s is coming fresh off a season where he tore both his ACL and MCL while Sendejo has had a history of frequent injuries to his lower body. Although the Eagles have around $20 million in cap space, the needs of improving the defensive secondary are a top priority.
No Need for More Linebackers
The Eagles don’t really need a linebacker either. Nigel Bradham has proven to be a reliable starter and Zach Brown adds more depth with not only his ability to stop the run but also his ability to defend against the pass. Out of Brown’s 69 solo tackles, 10 were for losses and Brown didn’t allow a touchdown while in coverage last year. L.J. Fort is among the NFL’s best linebackers at stopping the run, finishing with a grade of 81.3, and performs well in coverage. Rookie Trent Edwards hopes to continue the dominance he displayed in college at Wisconsin and Nathan Gerry has proven to be a flexible player given that he has played at each of the linebacker positions. Given all this potential for talent, there is simply no room for an aging Barwin in the Eagles linebacker group.
Connor Barwin was once a great edge rusher. Eagles fans will never forget his breakout year in 2014, where he had 64 combined tackles and 14.5 sacks. However, Barwin has been on the decline since then and coupled with his age, the Eagles shouldn’t sign him. Would I be surprised if the Eagles gave him a one year deal out of good will? No.
But is he needed given all this plethora of information? Not really.