Roseman: Having Barnett ‘let's us sleep a little bit better'

Roseman: Having Barnett ‘let's us sleep a little bit better' originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The day before the Eagles had to cut their roster to 53 players, a report surfaced that Derek Barnett and his agent were gauging the market for an opportunity to play more elsewhere in 2023.

But a trade didn’t happen.

And, at least for now, the former first-round pick is still on the Eagles’ 53-man roster.

“Tremendous respect for Derek and the player and person that he is and what he brings to this football team. Love having him here. That's why we bring him back,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said on Tuesday afternoon.

“That's a position for us which you see with the 53-man roster, it's a priority. So, we're going to keep as many of those guys we possibly can. Last year we got in a little bit of a bind and had to give up a pick and had to sign guys in the middle of the year.

“So, for us having those guys lets us sleep a little bit better at night, and Derek is certainly one of those guys.”

The Eagles went extremely heavy on the defensive line on their initial 53-man roster, which is very likely going to see some changes before the opener on Sept. 10. But for now they kept seven defensive tackles and six edge rushers. Barnett is one of those six.

It appears that Barnett, the 27-year-old former starting defensive end, is the fifth guy in the edge rusher rotation behind Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, Brandon Graham and Nolan Smith. So you can understand why he might think there won’t be an awful lot of playing time for him this season.

Of course, it’s worth noting that Reddick is getting over a thumb surgery and Smith has missed recent practices with a shoulder injury. Those injuries are a good reminder that Barnett is a solid insurance policy.

But after Barnett and his agent Drew Rosenhaus looked for a trade with more opportunity, Nick Sirianni was asked if he has any concern about Barnett’s feelings on his role or playing time.

“No, because we've had discussions with him,” Sirianni said. “Like Howie said, we'll keep those discussions that we have with our players private.”

The Eagles used the No. 14 overall pick to take Barnett out of Tennessee back in the 2017 draft and it’s fair to say he never lived up to that draft status. While Barnett became a starter from 2019-2021, he never became a star. His best season came in 2019, when he had 6 1/2 sacks and 22 quarterback hits.

But before Barnett missed most of the 2022 season with a torn ACL suffered in Week 1, he had proven himself to be a serviceable rotational defensive end in the NFL. Not a star, not a waste.

From 2019-2021, there were 64 edge rushers in the NFL to play at least 40 games. Among them, Barnett ranked 28th in sacks with 14 and 16th in QB hits with 49. Again, not great, but a guy who can probably offer some pass rush as a rotational piece.

Of course, the most frustrating part of Barnett has been his penchant for dumb penalties — it’s a reputation he’s earned — but the Eagles really do appreciate all of his aggression up until that point.

And it’s probably safe to say the Eagles have always liked Barnett more than their fans. A couple years ago, the Eagles signed Barnett to a two-year deal when offers weren’t coming elsewhere. This offseason, they renegotiated his deal to make it a little more palatable in 2023.

There’s still a week and a half before the Eagles open their 2023 season in New England on Sept. 10. There’s still time for another team to swoop in and wow the Eagles with an offer for Barnett … but that seems pretty unlikely.

Unless that offer comes, Barnett is going to be an Eagle for at least one more season and Roseman can sleep better at night.

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