The Philadelphia Eagles could make a surprising move with Bleacher Report’s David Kenyon speculating that pass rusher Derek Barnett is on the hot seat heading into training camp. Barnett is recovering from a season-ending ACL injury the defensive end unfortunately sustained during the team’s Week 1 matchup against the Lions in 2022.
“At first glance, this may look stunning. Derek Barnett recorded at least 20 pressures from 2019-21 before a torn left ACL ended his 2022 campaign in Week 1,” Kenyon wrote on May 15. “He’s an inexpensive player at $3.1 million and, in my estimation, should be kept. Nevertheless, an edge-rushing depth chart headlined by Josh Sweat, Haason Reddick, Brandon Graham and first-rounder Nolan Smith warrants the conversation.”
After a standout career at Tennessee, Philadelphia selected Barnett with the No. 14 overall selection in the 2017 NFL draft. Barnett has made an impact but continues to struggle to maintain the kind of consistent production that lives up to the expectations of being a former top-15 pick.
Eagles News: Derek Barnett Still Has 1 Year Remaining on His $15 Million Contract
The defender notched 46 tackles, 11 quarterback hits and seven tackles for loss during 16 appearances in 2021 when Barnett was last fully healthy. Pro Football Focus gave Barnett a 61.8 grade for his play in 2021. Barnett has not earned a 70 grade or higher (rated on a scale of one to 100) from PFF during his first six NFL seasons.
For fans who want to see Barnett get another season with the Eagles at full health, there are plenty of indicators that Philadelphia will let his current deal play out. Barnett still has one season remaining on a three-year, $15 million contract.
The Eagles would take a $10.6 million dead cap hit by releasing Barnett this offseason. Assuming the Eagles believe Barnett can contribute in any way this season, Philadelphia would be wiser to retain the pass rusher for one more year and address his future during the 2024 free agency.
The Eagles Added to an Incredibly Deep Defensive Line With the Addition of Jalen Carter
The challenge is the Eagles have one of the deepest defensive line rotations of any NFL team. Barnett is battling pass rushers like Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat and Tarron Jackson for snaps. The Eagles also have a number of defensive tackles that have some flexibility to be used on the outside as well. Philadelphia bolstered this group even more with the addition of Jalen Carter.
The Eagles were able to land Carter who was once projected to be a top-five selection before a pre-draft slide due to a number of factors including questions about his conditioning after an underwhelming Georgia pro day. When asked about his level of concern regarding Carter, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni emphasized there is “none” while adding all rookies are in the process of getting back into football shape.
“I think that what you’ll see when we’re going out there is that we’re trying to get everybody back into shape- football-playing shape,” Sirianni said during a May 5, 2023 press conference. “These guys have been in hotels. They’ve been on 30 visits. They’ve been getting ready for pro days. They’ve been getting ready for the combine. So, to say any of them are in really good football shape and they are ready to play a game tomorrow, I would say that’s inaccurate. None of those guys are.
“So, today was not about finding out what their conditioning level was. Today was about going out there and my coaching points to our coaches were, ‘Listen, their bodies are not ready to play yet.’ This is all about protecting the players while still getting ready to play.”