The Bengals are bringing recently-cut defensive end Connor Barwin to Cincinnati for a visit, per ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan.
Barwin, a former University of Cincinnati star defensive lineman, was an anticipated cap casualty in Philadelphia. The Eagles saved $7.75 million in salary cap space by cutting him and because he was cut, he doesn't count against the compensatory pick formula, should the Bengals sign him.
Barwin, 30, is a former second round draft pick by the Houston Texans from the 2009 NFL Draft. His first-ever NFL sack actually came against the Bengals and Carson Palmer back in his rookie season. Barwin has been a starter since his third year in the NFL, though that was essentially has second season as he lost the 2010 season due to an ankle injury. Other than that injury, he’s been highly durable and has missed zero games since, starting every game but one since 2011. Barwin ranks third among all NFL defensive ends in consecutive starts (96).
Barwin spent his first four seasons in the NFL with the Texans, and the last four with the Eagles. He's accumulated 320 tackles, 50.5 sacks, 1 safety, 40 passes defended, 1 interceptions and 6 forced fumbles in his eight NFL seasons.
For most of Barwin's career, he's played in a 3-4 defense, but in 2016, the Eagles changed to operate under a 4-3 defense, which is what the Bengals use. He’s played both outside linebacker and defensive end, depending on the system. The 2016 season, playing in a 4-3 defense, was a down year for Barwin as he totaled just 34 tackles, but, he still recorded 5.0 sacks. Those sacks would have been nice to have in Cincinnati.
Adding Barwin as a rotational backup makes a lot of sense as the Bengals badly need reliable pass rush help. Though, Barwin is clearly not the same caliber player he was back in 2014 when he had 14.5 sacks with the Eagles. Barwin graded out as Pro Football Focus' 100th best edge defender in 2016 and had a 42.1 grade (poor). That was the lowest grade PFF has given him throughout his NFL career. But, that's actually better than Bengals starter Michael Johnson was ranked by PFF (105th, 41.4) and slightly behind backup Will Clarke (97, 43.0).
Barwin was both a football and basketball player in college at UC. He's also from Detroit, so signing with the Bengals would bring him closer to home.
This seems like the type of move the Bengals would be bound to make. Barwin is a seasoned NFL veteran, he doesn’t count against the compensatory pick formula and he should come on a relatively cheap deal, while helping to a position group in need to added talent.
What do you think? Would you like to see Barwin in Bengals stripes?
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