Eagles’ Derek Barnett’s Trade Request Could Reunite Him With Familiar Face

Derek Barnett

Getty Could Derek Barnett of the Philadelphia Eagles wind up getting traded to either the Arizona Cardinals or the Indianapolis Colts?

The Philadelphia Eagles have not yet traded defensive end Derek Barnett, but if they do, could the Indianapolis Colts or Arizona Cardinals be where he lands? Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report thinks so.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported on August 28 that Barnett and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, were seeking a new opportunity for the former first-round pick. Fowler also noted the Eagles had given Barnett permission to seek a trade. Barnett played in all 16 games (15 starts) for the Eagles in 2021, but he was forced to miss the entire 2022 season after suffering an ACL injury against the Detroit Lions Week 1.

Barnett is healthy again, participating in both training camp and the preseason, but the Eagles’ depth coupled with his inability to mesh completely with the defense have made him a potential trade candidate.

Now, with the regular season about to begin, Barnett is on Philadelphia’s roster but is still likely looking for a fresh start, and with multiple former Eagles coaches now serving as head coaches in Arizona and Indy, Knox thinks a reunion may be the best option for Barnett.

Could Barnett’s Most Logical Landing Spot Be With Arizona?

Jonathan Gannon served as the Eagles’ defensive coordinator from 2021-22, before getting hired in February of 2023 to be the new head coach for the Cardinals, and Knox thinks that connection could be just what Barnett needs.

“The Cardinals would be a logical landing spot for Barnett,” Knox wrote on September 6. “Head coach Jonathan Gannon last served as Philadelphia’s defensive coordinator, and the 27-year-old could quickly see playing time in a defense that doesn’t have a ton of pass-rushing depth.” With L.J. Collier and Jonathan Ledbetter the top two defensive ends on Arizona’s depth chart, there’s definitely room for Barnett to see significant snaps.

Heading into Week 1, longtime Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham is listed on the depth chart ahead of Barnett, so playing time will likely still be an issue for the 27-year-old.

But the Cardinals aren’t the only team Knox thinks might want Barnett: There’s also a potential reunion with Shane Steichen to consider.

Steichen, Colts Offer Another Intriguing Option for Barnett

“Indianapolis could also make sense for Barnett. The Colts also have a fairly underwhelming edge-rushing rotation, and former Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen is now Indy’s head coach,” Knox added.

Steichen, who was also in Philly during the 2021 and 2022 seasons, served as OC during that span, so he’s also familiar with Barnett, who has not lived up to the No. 14 overall pick Philly spent on him in 2-17, but he still has a good deal to offer.

Of course, there was the minor skirmish during a joint preseason practice with the Colts in which Barnett got into it with Colts QB Anthony Richardson, but that shouldn’t keep a deal from happening if the Colts get desperate.

During his last season starting at DE in 2021, Barnett played in all 16 games (15 starts), netting 2.0 sacks, 19 hurries and 12 QB hits (stats via PFF). Trading Bennett would free up $1 million in cap space for the Eagles, so there’s no real fiscal incentive there, and he provides solid depth on the defensive line, so an interested team would have to make an offer the Eagles like.

“Love having him here,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said about Barnett on August 29, via The Athletic’s Zach Berman. “That’s a position, you see with the 53-man roster, it’s a priority. So we’re going to keep as many of those guys as we possibly can.”

Still, if a DE-needy team calls about Barnett, don’t be surprised if he gets that fresh start he has been looking for.

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