Rating the Rumor: Eagles could trade Connor Barwin

Rating the Rumor: Eagles could trade Connor Barwin

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

Sixers now officially growing hyper-efficient big men on trees

Sixers now officially growing hyper-efficient big men on trees

Three weeks ago, even relatively devout 76ers fans could be forgiven for not recognizing the name Shawn Long. You might've recalled his pretty strong showing for the Sixers at Summer League last July, and if you were on the press mailing list for the Delaware 87ers -- lucky you -- you might have noticed him popping up in a lot of "LONG'S 22 HELPS SEVENS DOWN RED CLAWS" type headlines. But however D-League dominant-he was, it seemed unlikely he'd factor into a Sixers season where the team already had four young, high-upside centers on the roster. 

Then of course of those four bigs, one of 'em got surgery, one of 'em got traded and one one of 'em got hurt (and/or maybe just stinks). So with 20 games to go, Shawn Long was called up to the Sixers, posting 13 and seven in garbage time a blowout loss to the Bucks at home. That seemed likely to be the meaningless highlight of a nothing Sixers campaign for Long, but as Okafor keeps missing games with knee issues, Long has continued to be productive in picking up the slack. And last night, he had his best game of the season, posting 18 and 7 in just 19 minutes against the Chicago Bulls. 

Long's per-36 numbers, already decently absurd before last night's 117-107 Sixers victory -- just can't help ourselves beating these garbage teams -- are now downright hilarious: 25 and 14, shooting 67% from the floor, with a 28.5 PER The sample size is still too small (92 minutes) to mean anything considerable, and at this point in the season it's hard to trust any numbers being put up by anyone. But it's especially notable on these Sixers, who have seen such similar high-efficiency offensive production from Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel and (most recently) Richaun Holmes before the beginning of Longsanity. 

It's hard not to start wonder if playing center on this Sixers team is kind of like being a running back for a team with an impenetrable offensive line, or being a ground-ball pitcher on a team with an all-Golden Glove infield. It seems like as long as our big can roll to the hoop, catch the ball and crash the boards off misses, playing with pass-first point guards like T.J. McConnell and Sergio Rodriguez in Brett Brown's increasingly coherent half-court offense ensures at least above-average production from our five-man. (Unless, of course, that center was taken with the No. 3 pick of the 2015 draft, in which case such context doesn't seem to help a ton.) 

Or maybe the Sixers just have a better eye for young centers than Drake does for European slang he half-understands. Either way, the Sixers' ability to get such consistent contributions so far down their depth chart is one of the biggest reasons they seem practically certain to win 30 games one year after barely scrapping their way to double-digits. This season really just never stops being incredible for one reason or another, does it?

Watch: Dario Saric not pleased with more water, then remembers to Trust the Friendship

Watch: Dario Saric not pleased with more water, then remembers to Trust the Friendship

We thought T.J. McConnell learned.

Remember? Pouring water on Dario Saric is not a good idea?

Yeah, thought that was clearly understood after one Sunday in January.

But McConnell was at it again on Friday night after his buddy Saric poured in a career-high 32 points during a 117-107 win over the Bulls. Just like last time, McConnell struck during Saric's postgame interview with CSN's Molly Sullivan.

And, just like last time, Saric looked like he wanted to destroy his point guard.

Look at it unfold ...

But Saric remembered his mantra: Trust the Friendship.

For the postgame moment, watch below. For highlights from Saric's career night and the full interview, watch the video above.