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Could former Eagles EDGE Connor Barwin be this year’s Chris Long for the Patriots?

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The Patriots need help on the edge. Could Barwin be a perfect fit?

The Philadelphia Eagles have announced the release of EDGE Connor Barwin, freeing up $7.75 million cap space. A former 2nd round pick from the 2009 Draft, Barwin is an 8-year veteran with four years with the Houston Texans and four years with the Eagles.

The Eagles were trying to find a potential trade suitor for Barwin, but not many teams were interested in adding the 30-year-old pass rusher for $7.65 million in 2017 and $10.25 million in 2018. Barwin expressed a desire to take a pay cut to remain in Philadelphia in January after struggling in the team’s new 4-3 defensive front.

Barwin has started every game over the past six seasons and is at his best as a 3-4 outside linebacker, recording 42 passes defended over the course of his career. Barwin was named Second Team All Pro in 2014 after recording 14.5 sacks and has 50.5 sacks in his career. Barwin registered two sacks against the Patriots in 2015.

The Patriots need help on the edge with Chris Long and Jabaal Sheard not expected to return, and Barwin’s versatility could be an interesting match. The Patriots don’t run a standard 4-3 front and and ask their edge players to play multiple roles. EDGE Trey Flowers, DT Alan Branch, and DT Malcom Brown often create the interior of the Patriots defensive front, with EDGE Rob Ninkovich often dropping back into coverage to allow a SAM linebacker like Kyle Van Noy or Dont’a Hightower to rush the passer.

Long is a good comparison for Barwin, as Long was often asked to drop into coverage early in the 2016 season. Long was regarded as a pure pass rusher when he joined the team and he saw his role reduced as the season marched onward.

Barwin is a better run defender than Long, a more experienced and natural coverage player, and hasn’t battled the same string of injuries. Barwin needs to find a defense that allows him use his ability to run in the open field, and the Patriots could be a perfect fit.