Philadelphia Eagles: Kenjon Barner looks weird in Atlanta Falcons red

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

After a four-year tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles – capped off with a Super Bowl win in 2017 – seeing Kenjon Barner in Falcons red and black is weird.

While Kenjon Barner may not be a household name, the 29-year-old running back/kick returner was a vital cog in the Philadelphia Eagles‘ machine for four seasons under three different head coaches from 2014-2017.

That’s a pretty rare distinction for a post-2000 Eagles player.

Initially drafted by the Carolina Pathers in 2013 out of Oregon, Barner made his way to the City of Brotherly Love via trade in the summer of 2014; reuniting with his college coach, Chip Kelly, for a conditional draft pick.

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Though he didn’t make the initial 53 man roster, Barner signed with the team’s practice squad midway through the 2014 NFL season and ultimately earned a roster spot for the 2015 – where he played fourth banana behind DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, and the ageless wonder Darren Sproles.

But through it all, Barner remained present, and active, and most importantly, gainfully employed.

Taking over as the team’s primary return man in 2016, Barner hauled nine kicks for a career-high 277 yards in 13 games of action. He also ran the ball a career-high 28 times for 124 yards and caught nine balls for 22 yards in 79 offensive snaps.

And in maybe the weirdest twist of all, Barner outlasted his college coach in Philadelphia and became one of 46 players to appear in a game under interim Eagles coach Pat Shurmur.

With a roster spot under new head coach Doug Pederson in 2017 far from guaranteed, Barner signed a one-year deal to return to the West Coast as a member of the Los Angeles Chargers – but like they say, once an Eagle, always an Eagle, and despite living in a more temperate climate, Barner couldn’t stay away.

Granted, being waived by the Chargers in the initial trim down to 53 certainly helped with the decision, but after Sproles went down with a torn ACL in Week 3, Barner signed a fresh one-year deal to make his way back to Philly and pick up right where he left off as the team’s top return man.

That second tenure ended in a Super Bowl championship.

With his mission firmly accomplished in Philly, Barner bounced around the league in 2018, returning to Carolina, then joining the Patriots, before settling in with the Panthers once more before his season ended prematurely with a December trip to IR.

And after earning his second straight Super Bowl ring, Barner is a member of the Atlanta Falcons – fittingly the Eagles’ Week 2 opponent.

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Though he’s largely been relegated to his usual role on special teams, its clear Kenjon Barner has found his niche in the NFL and will remain gainfully employed well into his 30s in a league where older running backs are an endangered species. While he may no longer be a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, you can’t knock that sort of hustle from a Super Bowl champion.