Eagles Add OLB Connor Barwin

The Eagles made yet another move Thursday evening, signing Texans outside linebacker Connor Barwin to a six-year deal.

“We didn’t go into this necessarily thinking that we were going to have the opportunity for Connor,” said general manager Howie Roseman. “But as we went through the market in the last couple days, some things popped up that we hadn’t anticipated early on in the free agency process.”

Barwin (6-4, 268) has posted 109 tackles, 19 sacks, two fumble recoveries and 16 passes defensed in four seasons with the Texans. The 26-year-old moved to outside linebacker from defensive end following the 2010 campaign. He has 14 1/2 of his 19 sacks since making the switch.

One number that jumps off the page with Barwin is sacks. He had 11.5 in 2011, but that number dropped to three last season. Roseman indicated that the Texans changed how they used Barwin in 2012.

“He was more on the open side two years ago,” Roseman said, referring to the side of the formation without the tight end. “He was more in position to set the edge and cover the tight end this year. We watched him two years ago on the open side, and then even this year when they played the Lions when he was doing it more.

“We think that we know what we’re getting here in him.”

With the Eagles expected to switch to a 3-4 or some kind of hybrid, Barwin fits in at outside linebacker. The Eagles currently have several options at that spot: most notably Trent Cole, Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry. But none of those three has any experience as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 at the professional level.

Barwin, meanwhile, played over 94 percent of the Texans’ snaps last year, per Pro Football Focus. On passing downs, he rushed the quarterback 86.4 percent of the time and dropped pack 13.6 percent of the time. The Eagles’ focus this offseason has been versatility, and clearly they saw that in Barwin. While the cover skills are important, Roseman made it clear this move was about Barwin’s pass-rushing ability.

“We want to be able to make sure we can get pressure on the quarterback,” Roseman said. “Getting pressure on the quarterback, preventing pressure, that’s always going to be stuff that’s important to us.”

Barwin was originally a second-round pick out of Cincinnati in 2009.

According to Adam Caplan, the deal is worth $36 million with $8 million guaranteed.

Tim McManus contributed to this report.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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