Philadelphia Eagles: Ryan Kerrigan should have retired in 2021

(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

When the Philadelphia Eagles signed Ryan Kerrigan to a one-year, $2.5 million contract, it felt… weirdly encouraging.

While the Purdue product’s best days were certainly behind him, as very few defensive ends are still putting up double-digit sack seasons at the tender age of 33, Kerrigan had just recorded 5.5 sacks in each of the two previous seasons, a mark that would have ranked third and fourth on the Birds in 2019 and 2020 respectively. Factor in his extensive experience playing rush linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, which could come in handy in Jonathan Gannon’s new, hybrid scheme, and the prospects of getting a quality reserve run out of the long-time Washingtonian felt plausible.

Unfortunately, even that modest level of hype was largely underwhelmed – like sliding under a hurdle instead of tripping over it.

Despite playing 330 defensive snaps for the Eagles over 16 games, including two starts, Kerrigan recorded just three tackles – which came in Weeks 5, 12, and 13 – a tackle for loss, two QB hits, and zero sacks, and looked like he was about a mile over the hill. Every snap he played likely would have been better utilized by a player like Milton Williams, Tarron Jackson, or even Patrick Johnson, and unsurprisingly, the Birds decided not to extend a new contract to the soon-to-be-12th-year veteran.

… actually, that part about being a soon-to-be-12th-year veteran part isn’t true; while Kerrigan did sign a new contract, it was of the one-year variety, as he has decided to retire back in Washington instead of trying to secure another full-time contract when one clearly wasn’t there.

Ryan Kerrigan’s poor play can serve as a good lesson for the Philadelphia Eagles.

So what can the Philadelphia Eagles learn from this situation? Should they just stop signing older players to one-year contracts, the same situation they just entered into with the 30-year-old Jaquiski Tartt? Or should they instead opt to avoid signing former long-term division rivals, as the team’s track record of getting good play out of legendary former Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, and Washington Commanders isn’t exactly filled with hits, as Rueben Randle and DeMarco Murray clearly prove?

Personally, I think the answer is simple: Just cut bait on older players who don’t have it anymore.

Now, to Roseman’s credit, the Eagles have been pretty good about releasing players they feel are either misfits or ineffective in the middle of a season; L.J. Fort was released in 2019 after failing to crack a spot in Jim Schwartz’s defensive rotation – even if that was a massive mistake – and Andrew Sendejo saw his run come to an end a few weeks later in 2019 too, even if his play was a good bit better than Kerrigan’s in 2021. While those releases were more about the compensatory draft pick formula than anything else, it’s hard to argue with the concept of moving off of older players who weren’t working in favor of giving more snaps to younger guys with more upside.

Remember, folks do call the NFL the “Not For Long” league for a reason.

Next. It’s go-time for Kenneth Gainwell. dark

Who knows, maybe Jonathan Gannon really liked what he got out of Ryan Kerrigan as an on-field leader and handed him 20-ish snaps per game as a thank you for the efforts he put in on the practice field as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles? If that’s the case, the decision was at least understandable, even if it was largely the wrong one.