Updated: Jul 12
Derek Barnett is returning to the Philadelphia Eagles. The defensive end signed a two-year contract. This was a bit surprising as Barnett has under-performed considering his first-round expectations. It will be interesting to see Barnett’s role with the Eagles going forward.
Derek Barnett was drafted as the 14th overall pick in the 2017 draft. He played his college football in Tennessee. Barnett was selected one spot behind Haason Reddick who went to the Cardinals. Reddick just signed a 3-year deal with the Eagles to be an outside linebacker and situational pass rusher.
Derek Barnett had a decent rookie season in 2017. He was a part of the Eagles’ elite defensive line rotation. This Jim Schwartz-led defense was a big reason that the Eagles went 13-3 and won the Super Bowl. Barnett recorded 18 tackles and five sacks as a backup in 2017. He had the fumble recovery from Tom Brady late in the Super Bowl to help seal the game.
The 2018 season was supposed to be Barnett’s time to shine. He got the opportunity to be the starting defensive end. Barnett had a decent first month and a half. He had 11 tackles and 2.5 sacks in six games. His shoulder injury caused him to miss the rest of the 2018 season.
2019 was Derek Barnett’s best season. Barnett had 25 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 22 quarterback hits, and two forced fumbles. 2020 was a difficult year for Barnett. He was in and out of the lineup because of a hamstring injury. Barnett was able to record 21 tackles and 5.5 sacks in 2020. This was enough for the Eagles to pick up his fifth-year option for 2021.
Derek Barnett had the worst season of his career last year. He had just two sacks, 11 quarterback hits, and 20 tackles in 2021. Barnett led the Eagles in penalties with eight. This was not good production for a player that made 15 starts.
Is Barnett A Good Fit In Philly?
Derek Barnett’s injury history and last year’s struggles made many fans think that he wanted a fresh start. No other team gave Barnett a deal even though he was a free agent since January. Barnett will have to clean up his playing style and produce more. His penalties cost the Eagles numerous times. Barnett’s ineffectiveness to get to the quarterback is worrisome.
His recent struggles could be due to learning a new defensive scheme under Jonathan Gannon. The 2021 Eagles were second-worst in the NFL for sacking the quarterback. Hopefully, Gannon figures out a way to get better in this area. Another offseason should benefit both Barnett and the Eagles’ defense.
The Eagles are likely bringing Barnett back as depth. He should primarily be a backup/rotational player. Josh Sweat, Javon Hargrave, Milton Williams, Fletcher Cox, and Haason Reddick will likely get more playing time. The Eagles may select another defensive lineman in the upcoming draft.
Derek Barnett showed flashes of a quality player early on in his career. This signing won’t drastically make the Eagles better but gives them depth and someone with experience.