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February 28, 2023

Eagles stay or go: Defensive end

Now that the Philadelphia Eagles' 2022 season is over (a little later than usual), we'll be taking a position-by-position look at which players will likely be back with the team in 2023, and which ones likely won't. Today we'll look at the defensive ends.

Regarding the polls below, they are your votes on what you think the Eagles should do, not necessarily what you think they will do. Please think of them more as approval polls for each player.

Previous stay or go articles
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end
Offensive tackle | Interior offensive line
Defensive tackle

Josh Sweat

Sweat has continued to get better each year he has been in the league, and that ascension has also shown up in the stat sheet. He somehow snuck into the Pro Bowl in 2021, but was left on the outside looking in after a much better season in 2022.

Josh Sweat Tackles Sacks FF QB hits 
2019 21 10 
2020 38 12 
2021 45 7.5 13 
2022 48 11 23 

You can watch his 11 sacks below. There are only a couple of cheapies in there.

He also had a highlight reel pick-six vs. Dallas.

#JimmyVerdict: Sweat is in position to be a long-term starter on the edge for the Eagles, and his production has not yet plateaued. Stay

Eagles stay or go: Josh Sweat

Brandon Graham

Graham flourished in a smaller role in 2022, racking up 11 sacks in just 474 snaps. He played more than 50 percent of the team's defensive snaps in just two games. You can relive his 11 sacks here:

As you can see, Graham mostly won with power, which was a nice complement to the speed of Sweat and Haason Reddick on the edge.

Graham will turn 35 in April, and he is on record as saying he wants to continue to play in his 14th season in 2023, and possibly even for another season beyond that. He has a complicated contract situation, which is detailed here, but the short-short version is that Graham is likely to be released with a June 1 designation in March, with sizeable dead money hits both in 2023 and 2024. He will then become a free agent, free to sign with any team. 

#JimmyVerdict: It's hard to imagine Graham playing anywhere other than Philly, and he feels likely to sign back with the team after being June 1 released, much like Fletcher Cox did last offseason. Stay.

Eagles stay or go: Brandon Graham

Derek Barnett

Hey remember Barnett? Well, he's still on the team.

Barnett contributed as a rookie during the Eagles' Super Bowl run in 2017. In his first four seasons in the NFL (from 2017-2020), he had just 19.5 sacks, a number that fell short of reasonable expectations of a player drafted 14th overall.

Some of Barnett's early lack of production was attributed to injuries, as he missed 10 games in 2018, two games in 2019, and three games in 2020. He also probably wasn't 100 percent in many of the games he played those seasons. In 2021, his first truly healthy season in years, Barnett had eight penalties and 2.5 sacks. After one such penalty, Nick Sirianni was caught on camera mouthing, "It's always him."

During the 2022 offseason, the Eagles re-signed Barnett to what was effectively a two-year deal worth $14 million, because 🤷‍♂️. In an offseason of mostly smart moves, this was a baffling one. In the Eagles' Week 1 game in Detroit, Barnett tore an ACL and his season was over.

Looking ahead, the details of Barnett's contract are somewhat unclear (I'm working on it, sorry), but my understanding is that the short-short version is that it's cheaper on the cap to keep him 2023 than it is to cut him.

#JimmyVerdict: The Eagles need DE depth, and they like Barnett a lot more than you do, again, because 🤷‍♂️. Stay.

Eagles stay or go: Derek Barnett

Robert Quinn

When the Eagles sent a fourth-round pick to the Bears for Quinn at the trade deadline, it was a reasonable enough risk. They were acquiring an extra pass rusher for the stretch run who finished second in the NFL a season ago with 18.5 sacks.

The risk did not pay off. Including the playoffs, Quinn appeared in nine games, playing 112 snaps. He had 4 tackles and 0 sacks.

#JimmyVerdict: Go. And he won't even count toward the compensatory pick formula since Quinn and the Eagles agreed to shave a few years off of his contract.

Eagles stay or go: Robert Quinn

Janarius Robinson

Robinson was a 2021 Vikings fourth-round pick out of Florida State. He has not yet appeared in an NFL regular season game, as he spent the entirety of his rookie season on injured reserve. The Eagles claimed him off of waivers earlier this season, but soon after placed him on IR. 

In college, Robinson had 104 tackles and eight sacks over a four-year career in which he played in 34 games. A scouting report, via Lance Zierlein of

Traits-based edge defender with the potential to play standing or as an even-front end. Studying tape can be a frustrating exercise, as the same player doesn't always show up from game to game. He's an agile athlete with rare length and has the traits necessary to make plays on the next level, but his wingspan often goes to waste due to a lack of skilled hand usage, and he seems content to put it in cruise control in certain situations. He has the physical tools and athletic ability necessary to play in the league, but his ceiling and floor could be defined by his motor and willingness to put the work in that is necessary for improvement.

Robinson does indeed have an intriguing blend of size and athleticism:

Media didn't get to see Robinson in practice, since he was acquired well after training camp concluded.

#JimmyVerdict: The Eagles kept Robinson on the roster almost all season for a reason. He'll be back in camp this summer, when the Eagles will get a chance to get a long look at him, with no guarantees to make the roster.

Eagles stay or go: Janarius Robinson

Tarron Jackson

Jackson had 18 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 FF as a rookie in 2021, and he entered 2022 training camp as the fourth defensive end, likely to make the team because of a lack of competition at his position. He played well throughout camp, but had a few rough performances in the preseason games. Jackson made the initial 53-man roster, but was waived in October and brought back to the practice squad, where he remained the rest of the season. He only appeared in four games, with no snaps in the regular defense.

#JimmyVerdict: Jackson should be back in camp, but making the roster in 2023 will be more of an uphill climb than it was his first two seasons. 

Eagles stay or go: Tarron Jackson

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