The 2021 NFL league year is here and that means Derek Barnett’s fifth-year option valued slightly over $10 million is now officially guaranteed.
It was previously reported that the Eagles were in contract extension talks with their 2017 first-round pick. And it’s still possible a long-term deal, which would lower his cap number this year, gets done. Until then, though, Barnett is locked in for 2021 alone.
Barnett is one of the most divisive players on the Eagles’ roster, as evidenced by fan voting here at Bleeding Green Nation:
Here’s what we wrote about him back in January:
REVIEW: 2020 was supposed to be Barnett’s breakout year. He was finally set to enter a season healthy for the first time since being a rookie. But that didn’t happen. Barnett somehow entered training camp with an ankle injury that caused him to miss all of the team’s summer practices and Week 1 game. Barnett turned in a decent season after returning to the field; he finished with his second-highest sack total and ranked 36th out of 121 edge rushers in pash rush productivity. But the 2017 first-round pick didn’t make the leap to being a true difference-maker on the edge.
OUTLOOK: The Eagles have an interesting decision to make on Barnett this offseason. Having him play on his fifth-year option, valued at just over $10 million, doesn’t seem like a viable course of action for a team in Philly’s cap situation. The Eagles could look to sign the 24-year-old to an extension, perhaps in the Isaac Seumalo mold (team-friendly, betting on upside). Or maybe they’ll just cut him to clear that $10 million, especially now that Jim Schwartz — a fierce Barnett advocate — is now gone. The injury history is also a concern considering he’s missed one-third of the Eagles’ games over the last three years. Ultimately, the guess here is that the Eagles still have hope for Barnett’s future and will thus try to extend him.
Perhaps the Eagles plan to let Barnett play out his final year. Such a course of action might allow them to get a better read on how he projects beyond 2021. I don’t love it, though. They should already have a reasonable idea of what Barnett is after four seasons in Philly. Either you like him enough to commit to him or you don’t and you move on. No half measures!
The last time the Eagles let a first-round pick play out their fifth-year option was when they paid $9.4 million to Nelson Agholor in 2019. That ended up being a disastrous decision. One can only hope the Eagles are making a similar mistake with Barnett.