June 15, 2024

SO SAD: Browns head coach announced his departure and…

The free agency of pass-rusher Derek Barnett, a former Philadelphia Eagles first-round selection who played for the Houston Texans last season, will present one such opportunity.

On Sunday, February 18, Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine said that Barnett would be a great fit in Cleveland. Ballentine called Barnett a “underrated veteran.”

In 2017, Barnett was chosen by Philadelphia with the No. 14 overall pick. Despite having strong seasons—three of his first four years in the NFL saw him record 5.0 sacks or more—he was never able to live up to his selection position.

Following an ACL tear, Barnett missed all but six games in 2018 and all but one regular-season game in 2022. Younger and more experienced players had taken over his position as the starting edge-rusher by the time he was well enough to return, which finally resulted in his release in November.

Ballentine mentioned Barnett’s potency as a stopper of the run. That quality, together with the pass-rushing prowess he demonstrated in the closing minutes of 2023 and his age of 27, ought to make him a contender for a team like the Browns, who require a reliable edge defender on a cheap contract.

In March 2022, Barnett agreed to a three-year, $15.2 million contract in Philadelphia. He signed a contract with the Texans after being released, with a base salary of $1.08 million. Barnett’s predicted market worth is not included by Spotrac, but over the course of a short-term contract, he should be signed for a fair price that offers a low risk/high ceiling situation to the team that contracts him.

If Smith decides to leave Cleveland in free agency, Barnett won’t have to produce spectacular results to fully replace him. The three-time Pro Bowler nearly doubled his total of sacks the previous season and finished 2023 with 5.5 in Cleveland.

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