Derek Barnett’s contract could foreshadow more problematic moves for the Eagles

NFL: NOV 24 Seahawks at Eagles
PHILADELPHIA, PA – NOVEMBER 24: Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Tackle Andre Dillard (77) waits for the snap during the game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Philadelphia Eagles on November 24, 2019 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia PA.(Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

Howie Roseman made a surprising decision earlier this week in bringing back Derek Barnett. It’s not that the move is a bad one, it’s what it implies about the esteemed Eagles general manager and his attachment issues which have been well documented up to this point.

Why was Derek Barnett retained?

Barnett isn’t exactly brilliant. He’s young, sure, and he can occasionally make a flash-in-the-plan play and magically appear at the right time, but he’s had more penalties than sacks in his NFL career and has struggled to show anything close to what would be deemed as consistent play. The Eagles needed defensive end depth, but they didn’t need Barnett.

The issue here isn’t necessarily that Barnett is bad. I mean, they signed Ryan Kerrigan and it was easy to see the method behind the move. But the Birds are coming off a year where they paid the Tennessee product $9.5M in an option year, where he produced 2 sacks. You’d think they’d have learned their lesson…and there lies the issue.

Howie’s attachment issues haunt the Eagles

Roseman has a long and unsettling history when it comes to holding himself accountable. The Jason Peters saga went on for 3 years too long and even when he did finally cut the cord, he was brought back months later as a guard. That went well.

This isn’t the first time that Howie Roseman has refused to accept that a player he invested heavily on hasn’t quite panned out as once hoped. But the shot at a reclamation project was arguably the $9M investment in keeping Barnett around last year. Doubling down again, regardless of the contract, shows a sign that Roseman’s actions speak louder than his words – which have been filled with sentiments of reflection and a drive to learn from his mistakes.

This leads me to my next point – Andre Dillard. The Washington State product was also a first-round pick and like Barnett before him, has struggled to wade through Philadelphia waters. It doesn’t help that a superstar developed out of nowhere in Jordan Mailata, a former seventh-round pick who rose up to the occasion and snatched a starting gig from the claws of Dillard, but that’s not the point. Dillard was a first-round selection who was brought in to eventually replace Jason Peters. We’re now entering year four of his NFL career and he’s started 9 games.

Dillard will be entering his contract year this season, meaning it’s option time once gain next offseason. Are we really going to bet against Howie bringing back his prized offensive lineman?

Let’s not forget that 2 years from now, Jalen Reagor will be in the same situation. Another former first-round pick who has struggled to live up to expectations.

You can make the argument that bringing back Dillard would be a wiser move than retaining Derek Barnett, but frankly trying to eat the packaging your dinner arrived in would be wiser than retaining Derek Barnett. There’s also the fact that Dillard would be learning under Jeff Stoutland. How anyone’s stock could go down under his tutalge is beyond me, and for that reason alone, Howie may want to extend his tenure to give him as much time with Stout as possible.

But even so, the Eagles would need a backup tackle, and paying an OPTION year for Andre Dillard to the beat of $11.6M is a little to be even remotely financially viable.

The smart thing to do, as it is with JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Jalen Reagor, Miles Sanders, and any other young plaer who does have some upside but could be coming to an end of their tenure in Philly, is to float them on the trade market. If the Eagles could even get some day-3 picks in return, it’s only going benefit the team and help a GM get over his attachment issues before they inevitably place glass ceilings over the players he has, and will continue to draft.

Take Jack Driscoll, for example. Prior to suffering a season-ending injury, the 24-year-old spent eight game at right guard and helped give the Eagles some real power on the offensive front. However, he’s naturally an offensive tackle. Is he going to be ahead of Andre Dillard on the depth chart this year? No. Does he have more upside and would benefit more from that placement and experience considering he will be here long after Dillard is gone? Absolutely.

Roseman clearly values draft picks more than anything else, but he values what they turn into even more…and that’s the sentiment he has to break if this team is to ever return to the top of the NFL totem pole.

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire

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