Philadelphia Eagles: Is Connor Barwin worth a look in 2019?

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

With defensive end a giant question mark going into 2019, should the Philadelphia Eagles give Connor Barwin what very well could be his final NFL look?

Connor Barwin is the personification of a Philadelphia athlete.

Though he hasn’t been a member of the Philadelphia Eagles since the 2016 season, adown year by any conceivable metric, Barwin has remained a fixture of his adopted community, still holding his yearly benefit concerts for the Make the World Better foundation and even teaming up with Yards Brewery for a well-received Purl-styleMake the World Better Ale’ available at a number of bars around the city.

Sure, he spent time away, playing for a pretty good Los Angeles Rams squad in 2017, and a pretty bad New York Giants squad in 2018, but through it all, no matter what uniform Barwin has worn on any given Sunday, fans in the 215 know he really bleeds midnight green.

More from Philadelphia Eagles

But there’s a problem; Barwin’s tenure in the NFL is swiftly coming to a close.

That’s right, half a decade removed from his lone trip to the Pro Bowl, earned for a season where he recorded 14.5 sacks for Billy Davis‘ often-gassed defense, Barwin has quickly found himself replaced by a newer, younger crop of players; a relic of a league that has since passed him by.

After being a salary cap casualty following the 2016 season, Barwin has steady watched his yearly starts shrink from 16 to 13 to only three in 2018, his lowest total since the 2010 season.

Sure, some of that may have come down to playing for an awful Giants squad looking to test young players once their playoff hopes had been effectively dashed (in, like Week  6), but Barwin’s production hardly deserved a spot in a starting lineup either.

Outside of recording a strangely high number of passes defensed (four), Barwin was the definition of ineffective in 2018, recording just 12 tackles in 13 games (289 total snaps) and only one sack.

Now the Giants defense was terrible in 2018, but it’s never a good sign with seven players finish with more sacks than a former Pro Bowler.

So, when the Giants officially released Barwin from his two-year, $3.5 million contract, it really didn’t come as much of a surprise. If Barwin was going to play another season, potentially his final season in the NFL, it was going to have to be the perfect scenario: preferably with a contender in a scheme he knows.

Philly checks both of those boxes.

Granted, Barwin has always been a better fit in a 3-4 scheme, where he can play outside linebacker and attack defenses from a variety of different positions from around the field, but he does have a season under his belt in Jim Schwartz‘s scheme, even if it failed to live up to his 2014 production.

In said season, Barwin recorded five sacks on 709 defensive snaps. That percentage isn’t great, but it is one more sack than Brandon Graham recorded in 2018 on 45 fewer snaps. It’s also 1.5 fewer sacks than Chris Long recorded in 2018, at the tender age of 33.

Next year, both Graham and Long could be absent from the Eagles, with the former potentially signing a lucrative long-term deal to finish out his career elsewhere, and the other retired from the game altogether.

No matter how you slice it, the Eagles could be without 10.5 sacks and 1,366 defensive snaps in 2019, a pretty sizeable chunk of their defensive output even with the return from Derek Barnett.

Now, the Birds could instead opt to pool their resources and replace Graham with a legitimate defensive stud the likes of which the team hasn’t had since Trent Cole donned the midnight green, like, say, Jadeveon Clowney, but that doesn’t mean a player like Barwin couldn’t also still be in play.

Far from it in fact.

Much like Corey Graham in 2017, or Haloti Ngata in 2018, finding cheap, slightly over-the-hill veterans who can still contribute on a pitch count is a great way to supplement a team with a bloated payroll, and having a chance to do so with a player who already knows the scheme, and just so happens to be a hometown hero is just icing on the cake.

Next. Back up the Brinks truck for Jadeveon Clowney. dark

Does Connor Barwin still have enough left in the chamber to make it through another training camp and contribute quality snaps on an NFC championship contender? Only time will tell, but after being robbed of a Super Bowl ring that was rightfully his early last year, the Philadelphia Eagles owe it to number 98 to find out on his own terms.