Dolphins, Jaguars, Browns, Lions among the possible destinations

Philadelphia Eagles DE Derek Barnett hasn’t quite lived up to his bill after being selected 14th overall in 2017. But he’s still been a useful NFL defensive end for five seasons with Philadelphia. Like him heading towards free agency, where are Barnett’s potential landing points in the free market?

Derek Barnett’s free agent profile

In a 2021 NFL campaign marked by COVID-related injuries and absences, Barnett’s best ability has been availability. Although he has faced question marks over his health in the past, he is well on his way to appearing in every game of a season for the first time in his career. The 25-year-old has played 718 snaps this year, the most of any Eagles defenseman.

Despite his pedigree in the first round, Barnett never set the league on fire. His career-high sacking in one season is just 6.5, and he’s only posted 2 this season. Advanced metrics don’t tell a significantly different story. Barnett recorded 33 taps, which puts him sandwiched between Rasheem Green of Seattle and Mario Addison of Buffalo – not exactly world batsmen. Although he’s a slightly better defenseman than the passer, Barnett just isn’t the Pro Bowl-caliber player many thought he would become.

However, that doesn’t mean that he won’t get a relatively solid contract in the free agent market. Barnett always has the youth on his side, and Day 1 rookies will often be paid more than other players for the same level of production. Tyus Bowser of Baltimore and Dawuane Smoot of Jacksonville signed extensions in the spring ranging from $ 5 million to $ 5.5 million a year. Barnett has every chance of entering into this framework.

Whether the Eagles have the interest – or the means – to re-sign Barnett is a separate question. Philadelphia already granted colleague Josh Sweat a three-year, $ 40 million extension in September. The club also has veteran DE Brandon Graham in the books, while the Eagles sit third in the NFL in line spending indoor defensive end thanks to Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave. Managing Director Howie Roseman and Co. projects to have just $ 14 million in 2022 cap space – they could choose to spend it elsewhere.

Derek Barnett Landing Points

If the Eagles don’t hold Barnett back, where could he end up? Let’s take a look at several potential suitors.

Dolphins have the space to sign almost anyone they want

The Miami Dolphins will be consistently mentioned as theoretically heavy free agents simply because of their vast salary cap space. Miami leads the league with nearly $ 75 million in available funds. With a few easy cuts, they can get that number close to $ 90 million. No matter what’s going on with the front office, the coaching staff, or the Fins quarterback’s situation, expect them to be active in the 2022 market.

Miami and head coach Brian Flores (a former Patriots defensive coordinator) seem to like Bill Belichick’s approach of spending big sums on high school, but only adding mid-level players along the way. defensive line. In recent years, the Dolphins have given modest contracts to free agents such as Emmanuel Ogbah (who could disappear in 2022) and Shaq Lawson. If Ogbah leaves in the spring, Barnett would be an inexpensive depth option for Miami.

Barnett could help Jaguars get back to defense

Similar to the Dolphins, the Jaguars will have a lot of money to spend on 2022 free agency (roughly $ 68 million). But unlike Miami, Jacksonville’s defense was far from in the top 10 units in 2021.

In 16 games, the Jaguars have allowed the second-most points in the NFL, while their defense ranks 31st in Expected Added Points (EPA) per game and DVOA, Football’s measure of efficiency. Outsiders.

Jacksonville will likely have a new defensive coordinator and a new plan next season. But they will need skilled players, no matter which front they lead. Josh Allen is an above average player and Smoot has posted at least 29 presses in each of the past two seasons.

Still, 2020 first-round pick K’Lavon Chaisson was a total disaster. He’s only played 384 defensive snaps this year while generating just 8 pushes. The Jaguars need an NFL-caliber rotation option along their defensive line, and Barnett would give them just that.

Browns may need Jadeveon Clowney replacement

Cleveland’s defense rostering strategy is clear: invest in Myles Garrett and the high school, and complement everywhere else. Last offseason, Browns general manager Andrew Berry spent heavily on defensive backs John Johnson III and Troy Hill while awarding mid-level contracts to Jadeveon Clowney, Malik Jackson, Takkarist McKinley and Anthony Walker.

With Garrett already the third-highest-paid edge defenseman in the league, the Browns will have to cut corners elsewhere. Having not yet had extension discussions with Cleveland, Clowney could leave via free agency 2022.

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Barnett could help fill this gap. He could act as a valuable depth piece that can put the edge on, pack the race, and allow the excellent Browns defensive backfield to do its job.

Cleveland gave McKinley – another former first-rounder – a year and $ 4.25 million in the last offseason. This deal could serve as a low-end comp for Barnett’s next contract.

Barnett would give Lions a youth option as they rebuild

The Lions stand out as a perfect landing place for a seasoned young player like Barnett. Veteran rushers like Von Miller, Jerry Hughes or Clowney aren’t exactly going to be flocking to Detroit. The Lions have a long way to go to achieve consistent contention (or even skill), but adding an old first-round pick in the mid-20s to what should be a relatively low cost is the kind of movement they should make.

Assuming Barnett won’t hit a double-digit annual salary, it makes sense as a high-potential bet. Detroit can afford to take moderate risks, and Barnett offers the potential for added value. The Lions made a similar move last offseason, signing Charles Harris (picked eight spots after Barnett in the 2017 draft) to a one-year, $ 1.75 million contract. He responded by posting 7.5 sacks and 33 snaps in his first Motor City campaign.

Falcons defensive line could use a boost

As poor as some of the other defenses on this list are, the league’s worst first-seven could reside in Atlanta. The Falcons have managed just 17 sacks, the worst number in the NFL and 9 less than the No. 31-ranked Lions. They also have the league’s lowest pressure rating and rank 27th in yards. Adjusted line, Football Outsiders’ attempt to assign blame (or credit) for performance against opposing hasty attacks.

Barnett might be suitable for Atlanta for purely on-court reasons. But his draft contract could also be attractive for a Falcons ledger in dire straits.

General manager Terry Fontenot is expected to have $ 12 million in cap space next season. Still, Atlanta currently only has 29 games under contract for 2022. Once they sign a full roster, the Falcons will be in the red. Barnett should be cheap enough to fit in the Atlanta books while still offering the potential for a better-than-expected game.

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