Former Eagles defensive tackle Derek Barnett will continue his NFL career with a rookie team in the AFC for the rest of 2023.
After the Eagles waived the former first-round pick late last week, Barnett was claimed by the Houston Texans, ESPN and the NFL reported.
Barnett, the 14th overall pick of the 2017 draft, is still just 27 years old. But his time in Philadelphia was over after he was inactive for the previous two games. Barnett was clearly not happy with his role in the Eagles’ defensive rotation.
He will join a Houston Texans team that is 6-5 and fighting for a playoff spot in DeMeco Ryans’ first year as head coach and CJ Stroud’s rookie season. The Texans’ defensive coordinator is Matt Burke, who spent 2019 and 2020 with the Eagles.
The Eagles released the following statement after Barnett was released last week:
“The Eagles organization would like to thank Derek for his contributions to this team over the past seven seasons. As a rookie, Derek made one of the most memorable plays in our Super Bowl win over the Patriots. He was a great teammate who always ‘they played High energy and effort. We wish Derek nothing but the best.”
This statement was noteworthy because most players don’t get one upon release. It highlights the disconnect between what many fans thought of Barnett during his seven seasons with the franchise and what the team thought of him.
Barnett finished with just 21 1/2 sacks in 73 career games with the Eagles but was actually productive early in his career. Barnett had 5.0 sacks as a starter and had a strong postseason performance with a strip sack in the NFC Championship Game and a recovery on Brandon Graham’s huge strip sack in Super Bowl LII.
Even during the 2020 season, Barnett was somewhat productive and showed promise as a rotation player. But then he had just two sacks in 2021 and the Eagles still decided to bring him back on a two-year deal as a rotation player. Barnett lasted just one game in 2022 before tearing his ACL and in 2023 he was buried on the depth chart.
But Barnett also didn’t do much with his limited opportunities. In eight games and 99 snaps, Barnett has failed to score a goal or a quarterback in 2023.
Without Barnett, the Eagles’ edge rotation is a little shorter. Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat are the starters and play the bulk of the snaps. Next, 35-year-old Brandon Graham mixes in and Nolan Smith plays limited snaps. The only other edge rusher on the active roster is Patrick Johnson.
Through 12 weeks, Sweat has played 77% of the Eagles’ defensive snaps and Reddick has played 76%.
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