By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor
Connor Barwin is a favorite of Eagles fans and it isn’t difficult to see why.
Barwin made his lone Pro Bowl with the team in 2014 when he recorded 14.5 sacks. At that point, he looked like he would be a key player on the defense for years to come.
Not only that, but Barwin is a player who gives back to the community, much like the now-retired Chris Long, and fits in well with the city’s ideals. He was even known to ride SEPTA or his bike to get around the city and make it to training camp.
In fact, Long has said that Barwin played a part in his choosing to sign with the Eagles and Barwin climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in the offseason with Long for The Water Boys Foundation.
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I had the awesome opportunity to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with @laflamablanca95 @nateboyer37 @iamsj39 @vinceyoung10 @thebigpygmy and some bad ass combat veterans to raise money for @laflamablanca95 @waterboysorg foundation last off season. | TUNE IN TOMORROW NIGHT ON @nflnetwork at 8pm est. for an inside look at our trip.
Now, Barwin could return to the Eagles. He told Heavy.com that he is, “trying to come back and play for the Eagles” and has spoken to Howie Roseman about returning as a situational pass rusher.
He won’t be able to wait too much longer to find a job, but, for now, he is working out at Temple with Jason Kelce.
Despite all of the great things we can say about Barwin, it is important to remember the football side of things.
Barwin played three of his four seasons with the Eagles as a linebacker. When Chip Kelly was canned and Jim Schwartz switched to a 4-3 system, Barwin played as a defensive end during the 2016 season. He tallied just five sacks and 34 tackles before becoming a cap casualty in the offseason.
Since then, Barwin has played for the Rams and Giants. He had a decent season with the Rams, but tallied just one sack and 12 tackles to go along with four defensed passes in 15 games with the Giants in 2018.
As for a fit for the Eagles, while he would be an excellent locker room addition, he may not be the best fit for the scheme. There are those who are very worried about the defensive end depth on the team, but there aren’t many other teams where fans and analysts complain about the fourth defensive-end being a new fourth-round selection or a high-upside young player instead of an established veteran.
The move may not make sense for a team that is looking to build long-term. The Eagles have a young group consisting of Shareef Miller, Josh Sweat, Joe Ostman and Daeshon Hall competing for the fourth and possibly fifth defensive end spot on the 53-man roster while it seems like at least one will make the practice squad (unless they do not clear waivers and are signed to another team).
Signing Barwin would take away one of those spots and leave less room for those guys. At this point, and of the four could be important role players for years to come. Would it be worth it to lose that for a single year of a veteran seemingly on the decline? Miller is raw, Hall was a third-round pick and Sweat was thought to have first-round talent without his injury history. It would be hard to simply hand all three of those players away to another team for nothing.
On the other hand, Barwin could benefit from playing a limited number of snaps alongside some other dominant players. He would certainly be in a better situation to succeed than he was with the Giants in 2018. Perhaps that leads to the Eagles getting him on a bargain deal and he is able to put up some good numbers while providing depth in case of an injury.
That said, I don’t see a deal making sense right now. The only way I see a deal becoming an option is if the Eagles lose an end to injury or Howie Roseman receives a good offer to trade one of those four prospects away to open up a spot.
While it would be great to see Barwin back and it would be easy to root for the man, the team has to consider their long-term plans here. They will be losing Curry in the 2019 season and the hope is that at least one of Miller, Sweat, Hall or Ostman proves themselves able to takeover that spot going forward. That doesn’t happen if they sign with a different team.
Barwin has said that 2020 will be his final season, so perhaps if Curry leaves in free agency to chase the biggest contract once again, a one-year deal for Barwin can provide that extra veteran in the defensive end group. For now, that does not seem to be the case.
Howie Roseman has not made a final decision on bringing Barwin back and we are unlikely to hear from him on the subject until Barwin signs with a new team, whether that be the Eagles or another team.