Well, here’s something you didn’t expect to see. The Philadelphia Eagles are signing free agent pass rusher Ryan Kerrigan to a one-year contract, according to an announcement from the player himself that has since been officially confirmed by the team!
Wow. Pretty weird to see this long-time Eagles killer leaving the Washington Football Team and joining the Birds!
But certainly not unwelcomed. No, it’s nice to know that a guy with 13.5 sacks, 15 tackles for loss, 24 quarterback hits, six forced fumbles, one interception, and one defensive touchdown in 19 games against Philly can’t harm the Eagles like he used to.
Of course, Kerrigan isn’t exactly the same player he once was. Washington’s all-time sack leader, who turns 33 in August, was phased out of the pass rush rotation last season. He played just 38% of Washington’s defensive snaps in 2020.
Still, Kerrigan proved to be a solid role player. He had 5.5 sacks and ranked 40th out of 125 edge rushers by Pro Football Focus’s pass rush grading.
The Eagles had a need for defensive end depth with Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, and Josh Sweat as the only locks to make this year’s roster. The team also drafted Tarron Jackson at No. 191 overall but it’s hardly certain that the sixth-round pick is ready to contribute as a rookie. Joe Ostman, Matt Leo, and JaQuan Bailey (UDFA) are the only three other edge rushers under contract (though Genard Avery is still listed at defensive end and not linebacker on the Eagles’ official roster page).
On that parenthetical point, Kerrigan is just the latest tweener-type the Eagles have added to their defense this offseason. The 10-year NFL veteran obviously has a lot of experience as a 3-4 outside linebacker. 2021 seventh-round pick Patrick Johnson was also being projected to the same position in the NFL. Are these signs that Jonathan Gannon is going to run some kind of hybrid defense as opposed to a true 4-3?
Regardless, Kerrigan seems like a decent pickup as a role player who can also provide mentorship and be a good locker room presence. It’s not totally unlike the Chris Long signing back in 2017.
Then again, signing an aging vet like Kerrigan can be raised as curious when the Eagles don’t figure to be true, all-in Super Bowl contenders this year. For a team that’s talked about needing to get younger, Howie Roseman’s free agent signings have included Joe Flacco (age 36 season), Kerrigan (age 33 season), Anthony Harris (age 30 season), Andrew Adams (age 29 season), and Eric Wilson (age 27 season). It’s not like they were signed as core pieces since they’re all on one-year contracts. But some of them, such as Kerrigan, could be blocking playing time for younger players in a year where it’s probably more important to develop long-term pieces than sacrifice upside for short-term gain.
At the very least, Eagles fans can enjoy Washington fans feeling conflicted about seeing Kerrigan in midnight green. And not having to worry about him finding a way to destroy Jalen Hurts this year.
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