Shortly after adding two more defensive backs (see story), the Eagles on Thursday agreed to a six-year deal reportedly worth $36 million with former Texans pass-rusher Connor Barwin.
Selected by the Texans in the second round of the 2009 draft, Barwin spent the last four seasons with Houston, where he was teammates with tight end James Casey, whom the Eagles introduced on Wednesday (see story). Shortly after the move, Casey -- the only offensive player of the eight the Eagles have added since the start of free agency -- tweeted Barwin.
@ConnorBarwin98 Welcome to the @Eagles! You're going to love it here! #beenhereoneday
The 26-year-old Barwin gives the Eagles a pass-rusher who has experience at outside linebacker in an NFL 3-4. Their other defensive ends are Trent Cole, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Phillip Hunt and former CFL DE/LB Chris McCoy.
"We see his traits. We see how he rushes the passer. We see how he plays in space and we are excited to get him," said general manager Howie Roseman, who admitted acquiring Barwin was a pleasant surprise.
"It's not something we anticipated early on, being in position to do this."
Roseman emphasized the need to bolster the Eagles' pass rush -- "We just want to have pass-rushers," he said -- and naturally called Barwin "a high-motor guy" but also knows the 6-foot-4, 268-pound Cincinnati product can do more than just attack the QB. Barwin shifted from defensive end to linebacker in 2011, and in his first season at the position in Houston's 3-4 recorded 11 1/2 sacks. Last year, he had only three, but Roseman says the dropoff was due to the fact that he switched from the weak to the strong side to replace an injured Brooks Reed and often dropped back in coverage.
"He was more on the open side two years ago. He was more in position to set the edge and cover the tight end this year," Roseman said.
Barwin has started every game the last two seasons after missing 15 games in 2010 with a leg injury. He played 16 games as a rookie but didn't start any.