Last week, it was reported that the Eagles would have a handful of suitors for DE Connor Barwin..that is if they actually intend to trade him. Over the past 4 seasons, Barwin has been a consistent force on the outside and served as one of the few bright spots for the Birds’ defense. Serving as both a leader on and off the field, he has become a true captain for the younger guys to follow and a fixture in the Philadelphia community.
Despite his strong play, his production has seen a constant dip since a stunning 2014 season, one where he recorded a personal best 14.5 sacks. In 2016, the Eagles defense went back to a four man front, something Barwin hadn’t played in for several years. This led to his worst statistical year as an Eagle, where he had 34 tackles, 5 sacks, 1 forced fumble and failed to make the impact, Eagles fans have come to expect from him.
With this said, an argument could be made for and against moving Barwin. Here are some pros and cons.
Much needed cap space
The Eagles, are a team with many needs and less means to address them. As of now, they sit at about $9 million in cap space and have many questions that need to be answered. Trading Barwin would free up $ 7.75 million in cap space and depending on the compensation, be it a draft pick, or a young talent, would be an addition by subtraction.
Creating another hole
As we stated earlier, the Eagles have a few holes that need to be filled and although the Eagles need the Cap space, can they afford to create another hole? Last offseason DE Vinny Curry signed a multi-year dear, one that would point to him being the apparent heir, to the Barwin throne. Despite this, Curry was some what of a disappointment last season. An argument could be made that if Curry was given more of an opportunity he would produce. The potential to be a dominant player has been shown, but as of now that’s all it is, is potential. Even with Barwin, having his worst year as a Bird, he is a proven player and could be harder to replace than first thought given the current free agency market. Barwin carries far more than just on-the-field production and has been one of the few constants throughout some troubled times in Philadelphia. Upsetting the Apple Cart wouldn’t just put pressure on DE’s entering their final contracted year, but potentially act as a catalyst in creating yet another hole as starting talent decreases.
Building for the future
The 2016 season, served as one hell of a rollercoaster for the Birds’ and fans alike. It all started with finding the franchise Quarterback in Carson Wentz, and arguably ended with him. The Eagles need for playmakers to surround their young gun slinger was on display weekly..and trading Barwin could help speed up that process. In the NFL, you don’t get anything, without giving something. What the Eagles could get for him is yet to be seen, but you better believe Howie Roseman will make it work. Potential is the name of the game, along with low-risk, high-reward talent. What has gone unnoticed, is how well the Eagles did in the 2016 draft (finding Wendell Smallwood, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, and Jalen Mills all between the 5th and 7th round), so even if the compensation for Barwin is a later round pick, the possibility of finding a difference maker is there.
Over the past four years, Barwin has been a force for the Eagles defense, racking up 159 total tackles, 31.5 sacks, 1 interception, and 6 forced fumbles in 64 games. He has been a consistent difference maker and has been arguably one the most important players for the Birds. Even with his impact on the field, it might be his impact off the field, that could be the biggest loss. In his time in Philadelphia, Barwin has become a true pillar in his, and many other communities, helping to restore run-down parks and other areas of need. He has not been shy about the violence and many issues that the youth in the City of Brotherly Love face daily, and has been a constant presence against it. Helping raise money, and awareness and serving as a true beacon of hope, for many in need of real help. If the Eagles, did part ways with the 9 year veteran, it would be felt largely in the community, as he is irreplaceable in his deeds.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports