What Ryan Kerrigan’s arrival means for Derek Barnett

PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 27: Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Derek Barnett (96) looks on during the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Philadelphia Eagles on September 27, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Eagles made a surprise signing today by adding edge rusher Ryan Kerrigan to the roster. Kerrigan has been a consistent force along the defensive line in Washington for the last 10 years. He’ll join an edge rusher rotation in Philadelphia that is getting increasingly crowded. This may be a sign that more roster moves are coming, with more question marks being raised around Derek Barnett.

Derek Barnett has been a solid, yet unspectacular player since he was selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Barnett has battled through a laundry list of injuries and is certainly overpaid with a hefty $10 million dollar price tag. Ryan Kerrigan could be a stopgap that allows the Eagles to open up cap space through a trade. This could allow the Eagles to fill a greater area of need on this team such as secondary.

It’s certainly possible the Eagles simply want to remain deep along the trenches, which would fit in with their organizational philosophy. Kerrigan, a former NFC East rival, terrorized the birds over the course of his career and will provide a spark off the bench much like Connor Barwin and Chris Long.

It’s curious that Kerrigan wanted to sign with the Eagles. At 32-years-old, it’s surprising that Kerrigan didn’t more win-now options like the Chiefs, Packers, Rams, Bills. This leads me to believe Kerrigan may be eager to crack the starting lineup once again. He was only able to start 1 game last year playing on one of the deepest and best defensive lines in the NFL. Kerrigan is a savvy player who has never just relied on his physical tools to win. He has a wonderful bag of pass rush tricks that could help his game age well. A signing like this could be for more than just 2021.

So, is Derek Barnett on his way out? I’m not certain, but it does give Howie Roseman a lot of roster flexibility. Roseman discussed the importance of flexibility throughout the draft process, but it’s important to remember Barnett is only 24 years old on a team looking to build for the future. Trading Barnett would certainly be a risky move considering his age and ability. Unfortunately, he has not seized any of the ample opportunities the Eagles have given him to lock down a starting job.

The former Tennessee Volunteers standout may not be traded away soon, but it would not be surprising to see a deal made during training camp. The Eagles drafted a lot of defensive lineman in the 2021 NFL draft, if they can make a serious impression on the coaching staff or if a contending team faces injuries on D-line, I believe Roseman will be quick to strike a deal. Barnett is in the last year of an expensive contract and unlikely to return in 2022.

Whether a trade is made or not, the Eagles got better and deeper along the defensive line which is always good in the pass-happy NFL.

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire