The Eagles are currently $10.6 million under the NFL salary cap, but stand to almost double that figure if they dump defensive end Connor Barwin. That doesn’t necessarily mean releasing Barwin, either, at least not if a trade market emerges, as Mark Eckel for NJ.com suggests.
Some weeks back, Eckel reported there will be a handful of suitors for Barwin if the 2014 Pro Bowl selection is on the block.
One would think the Eagles would be open to the idea. At present, Barwin is set to take up $8.35 million in cap room for 2017, $7.75 million of which can be converted to savings in the event of a trade or his release. That’s a lot of money for a 30-year-old player who struggled with a position change last season, recording 34 tackles, 5.0 sacks and 1 forced fumble.
Another alternative might be to restructure Barwin’s contract, an idea the eight-year veteran seemed open to at one point. Yet what even is his value to the Eagles? To put into perspective how ineffective Barwin was after the move to defensive end and a 4-3 alignment, he graded 31st out of 32 qualifying players in pass-rush productivity. Expanded to include the entire league, teammate and noted draft bust Marcus Smith fared better.
As much as Barwin might like to stay, it’s unclear whether that’s in the Eagles’ best interests, even at a reduced price. Moving on makes sense.
With that in mind, you have to wonder what kind of market there will be for Barwin’s services. Sure, if he were a free agent, numerous teams would inquire, as Eckel’s source suggests. As far as a trade, though, it’s difficult to envision there being much of a market.
Whether Barwin is a better fit for a 3-4 defense or not, there are a combination of factors working against him. His lack of production in the Eagles’ scheme in 2016 is not completely irrelevant, especially given his age. In fact, $7.75 million is expensive for Barwin regardless.
Barwin earned a big raise after racking up a career high 14.5 sacks and generally being one of the most disruptive edge defenders in the NFL in 2014. Yet in his other three seasons with the Eagles, he has 17.0 sacks total. While rushing the passer isn’t all Barwin does – or even what he’s best at – that’s the ability teams are typically willing to pay the most for.
There’s one more potential issue with a trade. The Eagles might want that $7.75 million in cap space as soon as possible, at least as long as they intend to do anything significant in free agency. That means the club can’t necessarily afford to hang on to Barwin and dangle him in the hopes another team wants to trade a late-round pick for an aging player with a steep price tag.
Is Barwin going to be a coveted player this offseason? Absolutely, and he’ll perform well in the right situation. Could a trade theoretically get done along with a restructured contract? That might be the only way it happens.
There are a lot of moving parts here, and with free agency set to open on March 9, not a great deal of time remaining to get all of this done. Just because a player will draw a lot of interest as a free agent doesn’t mean teams will be lining up to make a trade, and the Eagles might be best served to cut the cord quickly and get cash on hand.
Rating the Rumor: Plausible, but logistically problematic