Former Eagles defensive end Derek Barnett will be continuing his NFL career with an up-and-coming AFC team for the rest of 2023.
After the Eagles waived the former first-round pick late last week, Barnett was claimed by the Houston Texans, ESPN and NFL Network reported.
Barnett, the No. 14 overall pick from the 2017 draft, is still just 27 years old. But his time in Philly is up after he was inactive for the previous two games. It was clear that Barnett was not happy with his role in the Eagles’ defensive end rotation.
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He’ll join a Houston Texans team that is 6-5 and fighting for a playoff spot in DeMeco Ryans’ first year as head coach and C.J. Stroud’s rookie season. The Texans' defensive coordinator is Matt Burke, who spent 2019 and 2020 with the Eagles.
The Eagles released the following statement after releasing Barnett last week:
"The Eagles organization would like to thank Derek for his contributions to this team over the last seven seasons. As a rookie, Derek made one of the most memorable plays in our Super Bowl victory over the Patriots. He has been a great teammate who always played with high energy and effort. We wish Derek nothing but the best."
That statement was worth noting because most players don’t get one when they’re released. It underscores the disconnect between what many fans thought of Barnett during his seven seasons with the franchise and what the team thought of him.
Barnett ended up with just 21 1/2 sacks in 73 career games with the Eagles but was actually productive early in his career. Barnett had 5.0 sacks as a rookie and had a strong postseason run with a strip-sack in the NFC Championship Game and the recovery on Brandon Graham’s huge strip sack in Super Bowl LII.
Even through the 2020 season, Barnett was somewhat productive and showed promise as a rotational player. But then he had just 2 sacks in 2021 and the Eagles still decided to bring him back on a two-year deal as a rotational player. Barnett lasted just one game in 2022 before tearing his ACL and in 2023 was buried on the depth chart.
But Barnett also didn’t do much with his limited opportunity. In eight games and 99 snaps, Barnett failed to record sack or a quarterback hit in 2023.
Without Barnett, the Eagles edge rusher rotation is a little shorter. Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat are the starters and play the bulk of the snaps. After that, 35-year-old Brandon Graham mixes in and rookie Nolan Smith plays limited snaps. The only other edge rusher on the active roster is Patrick Johnson.
Through 12 weeks, Sweat has played 77% of the Eagles’ defensive snaps and Reddick has played 76%.