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March 09, 2017

Eagles release defensive end Connor Barwin

Eagles NFL

The Philadelphia Eagles have released starting defensive end Connor Barwin, who originally signed with the team in 2013. Barwin was a fixture of the Eagles' defense over the last four years, compiling the following stats:

 Connor BarwinTackles Sacks FF PBU / batted passes 
 201359 10 
 201464 14.5 
 201634 2 

Throughout the Chip Kelly era, Barwin was one of the most valuable members in Billy Davis' 3-4 defense because of his versatility. Barwin could cover, rush the passer, and play the run, but was not a dominant player when doing any of those things. Playing in a 4-3 defensive scheme under Jim Schwartz that has historically been very stat-friendly for defensive ends, Barwin posted the worst numbers of his Eagles career, across the board.

Barwin entrenched himself in the community with various charitable efforts and became one of the most popular players in Philadelphia in his four years here. He even expressed the desire to remain in Philadelphia, appearing on Breakfast on Broad (transcribed by Dave Zangaro of CSN), volunteering on television that he was willing to take a pay cut to do so.

"Yes, I would take a pay cut," he said. "I mean, my plan is to stay here. You know, people talk about my contract and I think, I like to think, I'm a reasonable person and I feel like I'll work with the Eagles and we'll restructure and make some kind of deal that works for everybody."

Ultimately, however, the amount of added cash spending the Eagles could generate by releasing Barwin was too appealing. In 2017, Barwin was set to count for $8,350,000 against the salary cap, $7,750,000 of which the Eagles will now save by releasing him. A modest pay cut was not going to be enough to justify Barwin's production in Schwartz's defense. Barwin will now be free to sign with any team as an unrestricted free agent.

The remaining players at defensive end for the Eagles are Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Marcus Smith, Steven Means and soon-to-be free agent Bryan Braman, who is listed as a defensive end but is more like a special teams player only. The Eagles could look to bolster their outside pass rush in the 2017 NFL Draft, which is considered to have quality depth at defensive end.

The Eagles sent out the following press release:

Barwin started all 64 regular-season games in his four years with the Eagles and leaves Philadelphia tied for 13th in team history with 31.5 sacks. In 2014, Barwin was named second-team AP All-Pro and secured his first trip to the Pro Bowl after leading the NFC with a career-high 14.5 sacks.

“Connor Barwin is a tremendous teammate, player and an even better person,” said Eagles Executive Vice President of Football Operations Howie Roseman. “He represented the Philadelphia Eagles with class and integrity for the past four seasons and we appreciate his efforts both on and off the field. It’s rare to come across a player who invests so much of himself in the locker room, as a leader on the field, and with his relentless work ethic. His work in the community will have a lasting impact on our city that we can all be very proud of. Obviously this was a difficult decision for us, but we wish him and his family all the best. On behalf of all of us, we just wanted to say thank you and we all hope that our paths cross again in the future.”

A pillar in the Philadelphia community, Barwin’s philanthropic efforts through his Make The World Better Foundation helped revitalize numerous parks and fund urban development in the City of Philadelphia.

PhillyVoice previously reported that the Eagles are expected to free up significant salary cap space, with Barwin being listed as the top candidate. More cuts will follow.

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