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January 15, 2020

Eagles stay or go: Defensive end

Eagles NFL
340922_Eagles_Lions_Vinny_Curry_Kate_Frese.jpg Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry.

The Philadelphia Eagles' 2019 season is over, and there will be a lot of interesting decisions made on the players currently on the roster, more so than in most years. Let's take a position-by-position look at who will likely be back with the team in 2020, and who won't.

Previous stay or go positional analysis

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | Tackle | Guard/center

Today we'll look at defensive end. (All money figures via OverTheCap.)

Brandon Graham

Prior to the start of free agency last offseason, Graham signed a three-year extension worth $40 million, with $27 million guaranteed, so he's not going anywhere. 

Graham received that contract after a season in which his numbers were down, likely as a result of an ankle injury suffered in 2017 that kept him on the PUP list all the way up until a couple weeks before the start of the 2018 regular season.

While fully healthy in 2019, Graham improved his numbers in every pertinent category:

 Brandon GrahamTackles (TFL) Sacks FF-FR QB hits 
 201839 (9) 1-1 11 
 201950 (17) 8.5 1-2 17 

The Eagles hope that Fletcher Cox will do the same in 2020.

#JimmyVerdict: Stay.

Your verdict:

Derek Barnett

Barnett is an interesting player to debate. Many fans are down on him, which is understandable, given the following:

  1. He missed 10 games in 2018, and 2 in 2019. Durability is a concern.
  2. He has 14 career sacks in three years, which falls short of reasonable expectations of a guy picked 14th overall. 
  3. He commits a lot of stupid penalties. Including the playoffs, he had 10 total penalties, 4 of which were either unnecessary roughness or roughing the passer.

The staff loves him. They praise Barnett any chance they get, often citing his toughness and work ethic. Personally speaking, while the numbers aren't there, I do think that Barnett has improved his repertoire of pass rush moves, and believe it's only a matter of time before he breaks out.

Obviously, Barnett isn't going anywhere in 2020. The team does have to decide whether or not they will exercise a fifth-year option on Barnett for 2021, and I'll save you the suspense -- They will.

#JimmyVerdict: Stay.

Your verdict:

Josh Sweat

Sweat has a long injury history going back to high school, and he played in all 16 games in 2019, which is a good sign from a durability standpoint, even if he was only a rotational guy. In those 16 games, there were flashes where he looked like a potential starter, and other times in which he disappeared. On the season, he had 19 tackles (7 for loss), 4 sacks, and 10 hits on the quarterback.

Sweat showed some progress, and needs to continue to make significant jumps going forward. He'll be part of the rotation again in 2020.

#JimmyVerdict: Stay.

Your verdict:

Vinny Curry

Curry ended up being a bargain in 2019, when he made $2.25 million as a rotational DE, who exceeded expectations (or at least my expectations). He had 27 tackles (5 for loss), 5 sacks, and 12 hits on the quarterback. More importantly, Curry played well down the stretch, as he had 4 sacks in the Eagles' final 5 games.

I think the Eagles need to get younger, but in a bit of a surprise, I think Curry comes back, at another reasonable one-year deal.

#JimmyVerdict: Stay.

Your verdict:

Genard Avery

After the Eagles traded a fourth-round pick in 2021 for him at the trade deadline, Avery only played a total of 33 snaps in the regular defense. He had 2 tackles and a half-sack.

In the Eagles' year-end press conference, Howie Roseman was asked why the team traded for players in consecutive seasons (Golden Tate in 2018, Avery in 2019) who the team failed to integrate into game plans. 

"I think they are two different examples," Roseman said. "I think Golden was more of a win-now kind of move. When we acquired Genard, we knew that to get the best of him would take an offseason. 

"He obviously had two and a half years left on his contract. He was someone we thought was a young player who had explosive traits and when we talked to Coach and the defensive coaching staff, they said this trade will pay off more in the future than it will through the course of the year, and so we understood that. We understood that it was a high price to pay, but it's hard to find guys with his skill-set and he's a versatile guy. But he'll be best served with an offseason."

#JimmyVerdict: Stay.

Your verdict:

Shareef Miller

Miller was active for two games this season, and he didn't play a single snap with the regular defense, when six other defensive ends were able to get on the field ahead of him. That's not ideal.

Miller's roster spot next season is far from a lock.

#JimmyVerdict: Camp.

Your verdict:

Joe Ostman

Ostman was going to make the team before he tore his ACL in training camp. He'll have another chance to make the team in 2020, though if my projections above are correct, it won't be easy.

#JimmyVerdict: Camp.

Your verdict:

Daeshon Hall

In an extremely unfortunate turn of events, Hall tore his ACL on the final play of the regular season against the Giants, because Pat Shurmur was calling time outs in a completely meaningless game (to them) that was totally out of reach.

He almost certainly won't be ready for the start of the regular season, and is likely to land on the PUP list.

#JimmyVerdict: PUP?

Your verdict:

#JimmyVerdict Stay or Go Results

"Stay" means stay (duh), "go" means go (duh, again), while "camp" means that I think they'll be at Eagles training camp this year, but do not yet have a firm grip on a roster spot in 2020.

 QBCarson Wentz (stay) Josh McCown (go) Nate Sudfeld (stay)  
 RBMiles Sanders (stay) Jordan Howard (stay) Darren Sproles (go) Corey Clement (camp) 
 RB (cont.) Boston Scott (stay)Elijah Holyfield (camp)   
 WRAlshon Jeffery (go) DeSean Jackson (stay) Nelson Agholor (go) J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (stay) 
 WR (cont.) Greg Ward (camp)Robert Davis (camp) Deontay Burnett (camp) Shelton Gibson (camp) 
 TEZach Ertz (stay) Dallas Goedert (stay) Josh Perkins (camp) Richard Rodgers (camp) 
 OTJason Peters (go) Lane Johnson (stay) Andre Dillard (stay) Halapoulivaati Vaitai (go) 
 OT (cont.)Jordan Mailata (camp)    
 OGBrandon Brooks (stay) Isaac Seumalo (stay) Matt Pryor (stay) Sua Opeta (camp) 
 CJason Kelce (stay) Nate Herbig (camp)   
 DEBrandon Graham (stay) Derek Barnett (stay) Josh Sweat (stay) Vinny Curry (stay) 
 DE (cont.)Genard Avery (stay) Shareef Miller (camp) Joe Ostman (camp) Daeshon Hall (PUP?) 

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