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Derek Barnett, Eagles agree to two-year contract

Run it back, baby!

Kansas City Chiefs v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles re-signed free agent defensive end Derek Barnett to a two-year contract, according to an official team announcement.

That’s right, the highly frustrating player that mostly everyone wanted to see gone is back for at least one more season and maybe longer!

In light of Barnett going unsigned on the market for longer than expected, it’s not totally inconceivable that he’s back in Philly. But most assumed Barnett was a sure-fire goner prior to that. Here’s what we wrote about him in our position outlook series:

REVIEW: “It’s always him.” Few will be able to forget those words that Nick Sirianni was caught mouthing on the sideline after a dumb penalty by Barnett early in the season. Sure enough, the 2017 first-round pick ended the year responsible for the third most flags of any edge rusher. And it’s not like the focus on those mistakes is undermining elite production. Barnett quite plainly failed to produce as a high level pass rusher; he had 2.5 sacks in 17 games played last season. Like Nelson Agholor in 2019, the Eagles did not get their money’s worth for picking up Barnett’s fifth-year option. Which, by the way, Howie Roseman restructured last summer to put the Eagles on the hook for $7.25 million in dead money on the 2022 cap if Barnett isn’t back with the team.

OUTLOOK: Barnett might draw more interest in free agency than one would expect. Edge rusher is a premium position, he only turns 26 in June, and he has the first-round pick pedigree. To be clear, the Eagles should not be the team to pay a guy with just 4.5 sacks in his last 25 games. Not to mention concerns about penalties and his durability. The idea that Barnett is a total bum is too harsh; he’s capable of being a starter. But there’s enough of a sample size to have serious doubt about his ability as a true play-making difference maker on the edge.

In a vacuum, re-signing Barnett (depending on the price) isn’t the worst move. It gives the Eagles more depth at defensive end.

In a larger context, it’s another example of the team’s over-reliance on established in-house options (see: No New Ideas). They couldn’t take a chance on someone different with more upside? Whether that’s another free agent or someone in the draft or allowing someone like Tarron Jackson to step up? The same thinking applies to them bringing the likes of Anthony Harris, Boston Scott, and Greg Ward back. What is the fascination in running it back with a roster that wasn’t even all that great last year? If you loved the 2021 Eagles, you’re really going to like the 2022 team.

Yes, we’re all aware the team has three first-round picks this year. It’s possible those assets end up making a big difference for the Eagles. But that’s hardly guaranteed, especially when one considers Howie Roseman’s track record of drafting outside the top 13 picks.

With today’s re-signing, the Eagles figure to have the following top four options at defensive end: Haason Reddick, Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, and Barnett. Of course, Reddick is listed as a linebacker and might take a number of snaps in the SAM role. The Eagles still could also look to add an edge rusher early in the 2022 NFL Draft, though Barnett’s return might lower those chances.

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Grade the Eagles re-signing Derek Barnett

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