The Philadelphia Eagles made an unexpected addition to their defense on Monday morning by officially signing long-time NFC East nemesis Ryan Kerrigan. Eagles fans are already familiar with Kerrigan, of course, but I still thought it worthwhile to reach out to Hogs Haven to get a Washington Football Team perspective on this development. The amazing Andrew York was kind enough to quickly answer my questions. Check out the exchange below.
1 - Eagles fans obviously know Kerrigan all too well but can you sum up the entirety of his career from a Washington perspective?
The short summary is: great guy, great teammate, consistently productive on the field, never misses a game, criminally overlooked by national media because of the team he played on. Hogs Haven published this article a while ago showing his career stats compare very favorably to Von Miller and Khalil Mack, even though most people don’t talk about him on the same level. I’ll admit, I don’t think he was ever as dominant at his peak as those other two players (he can get stonewalled by the NFL’s best offensive tackles), but he makes up for it by being consistent, being available (2019 was his first year missing a game due to injury), and absolutely bullying lesser tackles. He was also a bit miscast as a 3-4 OLB for most of his time in Washington; he’s more natural as a 4-3 DE without coverage responsibility, and I think he’d have been even more productive if allowed to play in the correct role. From a fan point of view, he was also the only consistent bright spot on Washington’s roster for the past 10 years or so. For a long time, it was really just him and Trent Williams that fans could point to and say “these are our great players, year in and year out.” After the team’s messy divorce with Trent, it was just Kerrigan. Ryan Kerrigan is destined for Washington’s Ring of Honor when he retires, I can’t think of a more deserving player over the last decade.
2 - Before recently announcing his departure, what percent chance did you think Kerrigan would return to Washington in 2021? Do you think he *should* have been re-signed?
On the one hand, I thought he should be re-signed because he still has something to give, but on the other hand, I agree with Rivera’s seeming plan of building a youth movement and a team that is designed to peak next year or the year after. I would have given Kerrigan’s chances of returning at about 25% before, based on comments by Rivera and GM Martin Mayhew that they really wanted to get younger at the position.
3 - On a scale of 1-10 (10 being most annoyed), how annoying is it for Washington fans that Kerrigan signed with the Eagles? And how would you feel if he won a Super Bowl ring with Philly? (Evil question, I know.)
It’s a 10 level of annoyance, for sure. He’s one of our most beloved players, so watching him go to a division rival sucks. On the other hand, we’ll still get to watch him beat up on the Cowboys and Giants twice a season, so it’s not all bad. If he won a Super Bowl with Philly, I’d really just be shocked that he was able to continue playing for the 10+ years and major front office changes it would take to get there. Given that, I’d be happy for him.
[BLG Note: Well played.]
4 - What all went into Kerrigan seeing a decreased role last year and to what extent does he have gas left in the tank?
It was a combination of having exceptionally talented players in Chase Young and Montez Sweat at the same position along with Rivera’s seeming desire to get younger all over the roster. Kerrigan has said he wants to be a starter in 2021 and that’s not going to happen in Washington. I think Kerrigan is past his prime and on the decline but is still worthy of starting on many NFL teams and is probably an average DE at this point in his career. He was able to generate 5.5 sacks while playing only 38% of the defensive snaps last year, so he still has gas left in the tank. I think he’s best used primarily as a pass rusher in a heavy rotation to keep him fresh. He doesn’t seem to be quite as physical as he once was, so it might make sense to use him less against the run.
5 - Kerrigan’s been lauded for his locker room value in addition to his on-field talent. Can you speak to his leadership qualities? Any notable examples?
He’s always been more of a leader by example rather than a vocal leader. I think that might also be one of the reasons Rivera let him go, as Rivera only seems to be prioritizing older veterans if they are vocal leaders. Kerrigan is a quiet, hard-working guy who produces on the field and doesn’t say much without prompting, but will help or mentor anyone who asks. Chase Young has said Kerrigan acted like a big brother to him despite Young clearly being drafted to take his place, which is something Young respects and appreciates. In addition to mentoring on the field, players have been known to ask his advice about how to stay healthy, which Kerrigan freely shares.