The Eagles held on for a victory over the Lions yesterday, but lost a key defender for the season in the process. Defensive end Derek Barnett tore his ACL, and will miss the remainder of the campaign (Twitter link via ESPN’s Adam Schefter).
The 26-year-old has been with the Eagles for his entire career since joining them as a first-round pick in 2017. He became a starter in his second year, and set a career high in 2019 with 6.5 sacks. That figure had fallen to just two by 2021, though, leading to the belief that his time in Philadelphia would be coming to an end.
Instead, Barnett re-signed on a two-year deal in March. That kept him in the fold after the Eagles made a sizable investment in free agent Haason Reddick, and re-upped Josh Sweat the previous offseason. While Barnett therefore faced plenty of competition for snaps from those two (along with fellow veteran Brandon Graham), he was likely to at least occupy a rotational role amongst the team’s edge rushers.
Barnett is due to carry a cap hit of just over $4MM next season. The presence of $1.5MM in guaranteed money in his deal, along with several void years, would make a release untenable from a financial standpoint, however. The Eagles will need to hope he can recover back to full health and try to regain his form of 2019 and ’20 to provide an effective return on their investment.
In Barnett’s absence, the Eagles may lean on sixth-rounders Tarron Jackson and Kyron Johnson, who were added in the 2021 and 2022 drafts, respectively, as rotational rushers. With nearly $11MM in cap space, Philadelphia could also be active on the remaining free agent market to add a more experienced option.