Ryan Kerrigan has recorded more career sacks against the Philadelphia Eagles than any other franchise with 13.5. Now the former Washington Football Team stud pass-rusher is trading in his burgundy and gold jersey for a midnight green one.
Kerrigan inked a one-year deal with the Eagles on Monday after 10 seasons and 95.5 career sacks in Washington. The 32-year-old leaves there as the franchise’s all-time sack leader who is coming off a productive 2020 campaign after transitioning into a situational role. Kerrigan posted 5.5 sacks and six quarterback hits last year on just 397 defensive snaps. He was the 16th overall pick in 2011.
The Eagles head into training camp with a formidable defensive line featuring a defensive end rotation of Kerrigan, Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat. They also took a sixth-round flier on rookie pass-rusher Tarron Jackson. Meanwhile, Philadelphia is stacked at defensive tackle with Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Hassan Ridgeway, T.Y. McGill. And third-rounder Milton Williams and sixth-rounder Marlon Tuipulotu fill out what could be one of the deepest groups in the NFL.
“We’re always going to build this football team and we’re going to start with the line of scrimmage,” general manager Howie Roseman told reporters after the draft. “Right or wrong, as long as I’m here, that’s going to be the priority. If we have an offensive lineman or defensive lineman sticking out on our board and they’re the highest guy, I promise you we’re going to take them. I’m sure there’s some people sick and tired of seeing the Philadelphia Eagles take linemen but that’s how we won a championship and that’s how we’re going to win another championship.”
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NFC Defensive Player of the Week
Kerrigan appeared to have plenty of gas left in the tank during the 2020 season. He earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors in Week 1 last year against the Eagles after a drool-worthy stat line: two sacks, two quarterback hits, two tackles for loss, one fumble recovery in Washington’s 27-17 win.
Eagles starting right tackle Lane Johnson didn’t play in that game but he was very candid about how much he respected Kerrigan prior to kickoff. He told reporters it “sucks” going up against the four-time Pro Bowler while complimenting him for being a great veteran leader. He’s fourth on the NFL’s active sack list behind Von Miller, Chandler Jones, J.J. Watt.
“Anytime I go against him, you gotta be on your A-game,” Johnson said of Kerrigan. “In this league, you can’t really slack, and if you do, you’ll get exposed. As far as him, he’s a class act, a fearless competitor and really the heartbeat of their team.”
Writing on the Wall in Washington
Kerrigan saw his snaps dwindle in Washington when the team added Montez Sweat and Chase Young. He was relegated to backup duties last year and became overcome with emotion following the team’s 31-23 playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kerrigan knew it was likely his final game in Washington, but the unrestricted free agent expressed a desire to keep playing in 2021. His preference remained to be a starter.
“I definitely want to be a starter,” Kerrigan told reporters, via Sports Illustrated. “I think any player would say that. I don’t think anybody just wants to settle for being a role player or a reserve player.”
He joins a talented Eagles defensive line rotation where he slots in as a situational pass-rusher. However, no one is quite sure what kind of scheme new defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon plans to run. Kerrigan has enough talent to see significant snaps while providing much-needed leadership.
“I definitely feel like I’ve still got a lot of ball in me, a lot of good productive years ahead,” Kerrigan said.
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