Eagles Cut Veteran Defender With Perfect Free Agent Available

Sources close to Adam Schefter indicate that the Eagles are cutting DE Derek Barnett on Friday.
The Eagles have decided to move on from former 2017 14th overall selection Derek Barnett.
The Eagles have decided to move on from former 2017 14th overall selection Derek Barnett. / Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

With a Week 12 clash with the Buffalo Bills on the horizon, the Philadelphia Eagles are about to give their defense a shake-up.

The Eagles are set to cut defensive end Derek Barnett on Friday, per sources close to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The former 2017 14th overall selection has been invisible for the most part this season, recording just three tackles in eight games without a start after being a starter just two seasons ago.

But could there be more to Barnett's cut than meets the eye?

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While Barnett hasn't had much of an impact this year, you have to admit the timing of his release is interesting. After all, it comes just days after former All-Pro linebacker Shaq Leonard — who has been linked to the Eagles — was released by the Indianapolis Colts.

It isn't hard to imagine why general manager Howie Roseman would want to replace Barnett with Leonard. Has the ex-Colt been as dominant as in years past? No, but it's clear that the situation in Indianapolis isn't working and a fresh start with a shot at a Super Bowl could be what he needs to bounce back.

It was only two seasons ago that Leonard was named first-team All-Pro for the third time while earning his fourth straight Pro Bowl appearance. His performance even impressed his fellow players, resulting in his being voted the 18th-best player ahead of the 2022 NFL season.

Besides, the Eagles could use another proven linebacker due to Nakobe Dean and Shaun Bradley both being on the injured reserve. Leonard also wouldn't have to deal with as much pressure as he faced in Indianapolis considering how Philly's star-studded defense boasts the likes of Jordan Davis, Brandon Graham, and Fletcher Cox, among others.

Furthermore, Leonard already has ties to the Eagles in the form of Nick Sirianni. While the Philly head coach never directly coached the 28-year-old LB, Sirianni was the Colts' offensive coordinator for Leonard's first three seasons, so chances are they're familiar with each other.

If the coaching staff can get him to fully buy into the system, Leonard could be the missing piece that fully solidifies the Eagles as Super Bowl favorites. They're currently tied with the San Francisco 49ers for the best Super Bowl LVIII odds ahead of Week 12.

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