Derek Barnett's $10 million salary now guaranteed


The Eagles made a huge move with Derek Barnett on Wednesday.

It was no move at all.

The Eagles neither released him or came to an agreement on a long-term contract by 4 p.m. Wednesday, which means the $10 million 5th-year option that they exercised last spring guaranteed at 4 p.m.

That means Barnett will play in 2021 on a one-year fully guaranteed $10 million contract that also counts $10 million against the Eagles’ 2021 salary cap.

It was presumed for months that the Eagles would either sign Barnett to a long-term deal that would reduce his cap hit in 2021 or release him to avoid the $10 million commitment that becomes guaranteed at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

But the market for pass rushers re-set itself this week, most notably with the Lions re-signing defensive end Mario Okwara - a player with comparable stats to Barnett - at $13 million a year.

That deal gave Barnett leverage because it meant he didn’t have to accept whatever long-term deal the Eagles were offering since Okwara’s contract presumably increased his value.

That in turn pressured the Eagles to keep Barnett with that $10 million salary and cap hit or risk losing their former 1st-round draft pick and one of their few productive young defensive players instead of letting him hit the open market.

The Eagles’ decision to keep Barnett means they return their top three outside pass rushers from last year - Brandon Graham (8.0 sacks), Josh Sweat (6.0) and Barnett (5.0).

Barnett has been a disappointment in his four NFL seasons, with just 19 1/2 sacks, which ranks him 59th in the NFL and 42nd among edge rushers since the start of the 2017 season.

He’s also been hurt a lot. He played in 2017 with a sports hernia that required surgery, missed 10 games in 2018 with a shoulder injury, two games in 2019 with an ankle injury and three games last year with a knee injury. In all, he’s missed 16 of a possible 48 games in his four seasons - one-third of the Eagles’ games.

But despite going into his fifth NFL season, he’s only 24 and the Eagles have always believed that if he stayed healthy and increased his variety of pass-rush moves he could be a 12-sack type of player.

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