After a finishing at the bottom of the NFC East with a pedestrian 7-9 record last season, the Philadelphia Eagles have begun the process of reshaping their roster with two big moves today. The Eagles released defensive end Connor Barwin and signed wide receiver Torrey Smith.
So long, Connor Barwin
The Barwin move was not surprising, though there was some speculation that he could be traded. Barwin struggled to find his place in defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s 4-3 system. While stats do not tell the whole story, Barwin’s career high in combined tackles and sacks came in 2014 with 64 and 16.5, respectively, in a 3-4 system. Last season, he racked up just 34 combined tackles and five sacks. By releasing Barwin, the Eagles will save $7.75 million in cap space for this coming season.
Beyond his work and leadership on the field, Connor Barwin will be greatly missed by the Philadelphia community. Barwin and his Make the World Better foundation have more than $685,000 for neighborhood parks and playgrounds in Philadelphia – often through concerts that featured indie artists like Mac DeMarco and local artists including Amos Lee.
Hello, Torrey Smith
On the offensive side of the ball, the Eagles have taken the first step to improving what was undeniably the worst wide receiving corps in the NFL last season. Former Ravens and 49ers receiver Torrey Smith has signed a three-year contract with the Eagles.
The three-year deal is reportedly worth $15 million. Smith was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2011 and won the Super Bowl with the team in 2013. Smith played for the San Francisco 49ers in the 2015 and 2016 seasons – enduring a frustrating season under former Eagles head coach Chip Kelly last season. While the Eagles reportedly attempted to trade for Smith during the season, the 49ers ultimately released the receiver last week.
Smith provides the Eagles and second-year quarterback Carson Wentz with a speedy outside threat that the team desperately lacked in 2016. While Smith’s production has declined precipitously since leaving Baltimore, it’s worth remembering that San Francisco has been pretty terrible in the last two seasons – winning just seven games total in that time, and only two in 2016. Also, he was catching passes from Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert, so we’ll see how he fares with Wentz slinging the ball downfield for him over the next three seasons.
Rumors continue to swirl that the Eagles are pursuing a trade for New Orleans’ speedy wideout Brandin Cooks and are making a strong effort to sign former Chicago Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery. Jeffrey has more size and would work well opposite Torrey Smith, but Smith, while fast, is older and not quite the burner that Cooks is. Stay tuned to see what else Roseman and company have in store.