Eagles observations: Making sense of Derek Barnett’s free agency signing

Why I can’t be too outraged by the signing of Derek Barnett, a crazy Steve Van Buren stat, two players who shouldn’t be in the Eagles Hall of Fame and a WR Zach Pascal reminds me.

It’s all here in this weekend’s edition of Roob’s 10 Off-Season Random Eagle Sightings!

1. It’s been a few days now since the Eagles signed Derek Barnett, and no one has released the contract numbers. This is potentially very good news. The reason the numbers aren’t there is because the agent doesn’t want them there. This is where “leaked” contract numbers almost always come from. When a player signs a contract that makes the agent look good, the numbers are everywhere the moment the contract is signed. When the numbers are not displayed, it means that the agent intentionally withheld them. It’s stupid, but that’s how the game is played. We’ll have the numbers in the next few days, and I’d be surprised if Barnett got more than $5 million a year over two years. Considering that would make him the 61st highest-paid rusher in the league in 2022 based on average annual salary, that’s fair. From 2018-20, Barnett ranked 46th in defensive ends in sacks, 38th in tackles for loss, and 21st in quarterback hits. If the Eagles had signed a guy with Barnett’s exact same resume from another team, no one would have gotten upset about it. But because it’s Barnett, it looks bad. Because we’ve seen all of his missteps and lived with his disappointments since 2017. He’s a failed 1st round pick. But he’s no longer being paid as a 1st-round pick, and he won’t be expected to perform like a 1st-round pick. He’s now a 3rd or 4th pass rusher on a presumably modest salary, and if you can get a guy who’s averaged 6 sacks, 18 QB hits and 8.0 tackles for loss in his three full seasons before 2021 at this kind of price, it’s not a bad deal. Now, if the numbers come out and it’s something like $7 million a year? Then we have a big problem. Then I will be outraged.

2. The Eagles haven’t drafted a defensive back to the Pro Bowl in 20 years, since Lito Sheppard and Michael Lewis in 2002. In that span, they’ve drafted 33 defensive backs – four in the 2nd round, three in the 3rd round, 10 in the 4th round, six in the 5th round, six in the 6th round and four in the 7th round. League-wide, there have been 141 Pro Bowl d-backs drafted during that 20-year span. In the previous 20 years – from 1983 to 2002 – the Eagles drafted six Pro Bowl defensive backs (Wes Hopkins, Eric Allen, Bobby Taylor, Brian Dawkins, Lewis and Sheppard).

3. Correll Buckhalter has had more seasons with at least 50 runs and a 4.8 average than Steve Van Buren.

4. If the Eagles take over Chris Olave Jameson Williams or Garrett Wilson, that’s fine with me. They are all great talents. But if they choose to focus on defense in the 1st round and then select someone like Christian Watson from North Dakota State in the 2nd round, I’m all for it. Tall at 6-4, 210, ran a 4.36 at the Combine, polished road runner, terrific hands and answered all questions about competitive level with a monster performance at the Senior Bowl. Watson could be gone when the Eagles pick at 51, and the way things are going, he could even go late in the 1st round. But he seems like the kind of guy Howie Roseman would go down in the 1st round draft or up in the 2nd round to hang on, and Nick Sirianni must love this kid. A WR room with DeVonta Smith, Christian Watson, Quez Watkins and Pascal, and you’re on your way.

5. Last year, Boston Scott had eight rushing touchdowns on 88 carries. Only nine running backs in NFL history have had more rushing touchdowns on 88 or fewer carries.

6. I’m so sick of hearing so-called Eagles fans making fun of the fact that “they only beat one winning team”. What nonsense. And it all comes from people who picked the Eagles to go 4-13 or 5-12 trying to justify how badly they misjudged Nick Sirianni and the 2021 team. The Eagles were legitimately a playoff team the last year, no matter who they played, no matter who they beat, no matter what bad quarterbacks they faced. I guarantee no Rams fan was complaining in 1999 when The Greatest Show on Turf won the Super Bowl without beating a single team with a regular season winning record. I haven’t heard any Tampa Bay fans tearing up the Bucs in 2020 because they went 1-4 against winning teams in the regular season. Heck, the Giants won Super Bowls in 2007 and 2011 and beat a winning team every year before the playoffs. Complaining about losses, I can understand. Complaining about wins, I just don’t understand.

7. As much as we project what the Eagle will do with the 15th, 16th and 19th picks, I put the odds of Howie Roseman actually picking players in all three places at around 7%. In his 11 drafts as Eagles general manager — from 2010 to 2014 and from 2016 to 2021 — Roseman made 36 trades on draft weekend or the days leading up to it. He’s made moves involving the Eagles’ first-round pick in 2010, 2012, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021 — seven of his 11 draft picks. If a player coveted by the Eagles but who doesn’t think he’ll last to 15 – say Kyle Hamilton, Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner or maybe Jordan Davis – starts to slip, Howie has the assets and the flexibility to go up and grab it. And if he likes depth at a certain position – say defensive tackle or receiver – and he thinks he can get similar value later in the 1st round while adding picks, he won’t hesitate to get out of one of those choices and still land a player he likes. Howie loves action and finds it hard to sit still on draft weekend. Doesn’t always pick the right player, but knows how to roll and distribute and maximize pick value.

8. The NFL began tracking receiving targets in 1993. Which Eagle has the highest yards per target record with a minimum of 25 catches? From Sean Jackson? No, he is 4th at 9.5 yards per target. FOR? No, he is 5th at 9.0. Donte’ Stallworth is 2nd at 10.4. So who’s first? Would you believe tight end Richard Rodgers? The veteran tight end was targeted 34 times as an Eagle and caught 27 passes for 363 yards for a franchise-record 10.7 yards per target. You could have given me 1,000 guesses and I wouldn’t have guessed RichRod.

9. Zach Pascal reminds me of Jason Avant. A badass, a slot machine specialist, a formidable blocker, a selfless team guy. Avant averaged 41 for 511 in his seven full seasons with the Eagles, and Pascal averaged 41 for 540 in his three full seasons at Indy. Considering the $1.5 million price tag, I’m fine with Pascal — as long as the Eagles still draft a WR in the first three rounds.

ten. Someone needs to explain to me why Bill Hewitt and Ollie Matson are in the Eagles Hall of Fame. Nothing personal. Both were great players. But not here. Hewitt played in the 1930s and made three all-pro teams and reached two NFL championship games with the Bears – winning one. But he only spent 3 and a half seasons with the Eagles and played only 38 games. He caught 51 passes for 699 yards and 10 touchdowns as an Eagle and was part of four teams that went a combined 13-27-2. And Matson spent the last three seasons of a 15-year career here and played just 40 games for the Eagles. Matson was a five-time pro with the Cards, but by the time he arrived in Philadelphia he was 34 and a part-time player. He rushed for 608 yards and caught 25 passes for 301 yards in three years with the Eagles and scored 10 touchdowns. Both Hewitt and Matson were inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the early 1970s, but not for all they did with the Eagles. The Eagles Hall of Fame should be reserved for those who have truly had a monumental impact on the franchise. Hewitt and Matson did not get close.

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