It appeared yesterday that the Philadelphia Eagles escaped their opener with no major injuries, but that wasn’t the case. Today an MRI showed that defensive end Derek Barnett suffered a torn ACL and will be out for the season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni confirmed the reports during his September 12 press conference. “I am a huge Derek Barnett fan and he’ll be missed, so that sucks,” Sirianni said. “I hate that for him, I hate that for this team.”
Barnett only played 12 snaps in the Eagles season opening 38-35 win over the Lions before suffering the injury, but he was supposed to be a big part of the rotation at defensive end. Brandon Graham and Josh Sweat were listed as the starters, with Barnett and Tarron Jackson backing them up. Jackson was inactive yesterday, so it remains to be seen how big of a role he’ll now play.
“We have some good options there, we have a good rotation right there,” Sirianni said. “Tarron wasn’t up yesterday, but how quickly it can turn from you not being up for a game to you having a significant role.”
Barnett had 21.5 sacks through his first five seasons in the NFL, posting his highest total in 2019 with 6.5. The Eagles selected Barnett with the 14th overall pick in the first round of the 2017 draft, and he started 45 games over the last four years, but never reached the levels of production as a pass rusher that the Birds hoped for when they drafted him.
Eagles Down to Three Defensive Ends on Roster
The Eagles came into the season with five defensive tackles and four defensive ends on the roster, and Jackson wasn’t considered good enough to dress for the season opener. That means this leaves the Eagles thin at defensive end.
That said, their most important pass rusher is expected to be Haason Reddick, who’s listed as a linebacker. Perhaps defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon can adjust with the pieces he has, although he’s already been struggling.
Perhaps the Eagles decide to use one of their defensive tackles on the outside from time to time, as both Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave are good pass rushers who might be able to be reasonably effective rushing from defensive end.
They could also go to more 3-4 looks, playing into the personnel they have. Hargrave and Cox could be more natural defensive ends in a 3-man front, where ends tend to be bigger.
Of course, it’s also possible that this is Howie Roseman’s time to shine. The Eagles general manager is among the most active GM’s in the league, and will likely be working the phones to see who’s available.
Injury Financially Costly for Barnett
While Barnett’s contract was officially a 2-year deal worth $14 million, most NFL contracts can more accurately be described by inserting “up to” before the dollar amount. In Barnett’s case, the guaranteed money was around $4.5 million, and it would have jumped to $5.5 million if he played in every game this season, according to SI.com.
Barnett is also guaranteed $1.5 million for skill for 2023, but that isn’t guaranteed for injury. So depending on the wording and the timing of those guarantees, the Eagles could potentially now move on from Barnett in the offseason for no additional money. As a result, this injury could end up costing Barnett $1 million this year and $1.5 million next year.
That said, Barnett has a full year to recover for next season, so he should be able to get healthy and get on the field in 2023, whether that’s with the Eagles or somebody else.