Just hours before free agency gets underway on Thursday, the Eagles released a player who epitomized what every team wants to find on the open market in defensive end
Barwin was signed as an outside linebacker away from the Houston Texans in 2013 to aid in the Eagles' transition to a 3-4 defense. Not only did Barwin produce on the field, but he was a leader in the locker room as well as an ambassador for the City of Philadelphia.
"Connor Barwin is a tremendous teammate, player, and an even better person," Howie Roseman said. "He represented the Philadelphia Eagles with class and integrity for the past four seasons and we appreciate his efforts both on and off the field.
"It’s rare to come across a player who invests so much of himself in the locker room, as a leader on the field, and with his relentless work ethic. His work in the community will have a lasting impact on our city that we can all be very proud of. Obviously this was a difficult decision for us but we wish him and his family all the best. On behalf of all of us we just wanted to say thank you and we all hope that our paths cross again in the future."
He registered 31.5 sacks and 38.5 tackles for loss in four seasons with the Eagles. He posted career highs in both categories - an NFC-high 14.5 sacks as well as 17.5 tackles for loss - in 2014 when he earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl as well as second-team All-Pro honors. During that banner 2014 campaign, Barwin was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for November when he had 6.5 sacks and 16 tackles. It was the second time in his career (with Houston in November 2011) that he earned the award.
Not only was he productive, but Barwin was reliable. He did not miss a game as an Eagle, and played over 1,000 snaps in his first three years in midnight green.
This past year, the Eagles went back to a 4-3 defense. He also changed sides, lining up in a 3-point stance on the right side as opposed to the left side as an outside linebacker. Barwin's playing time was scaled back, as he was on the field for 713 snaps (70 percent), his fewest since his final year in Houston in 2012. Barwin had 41 tackles, five sacks, and four tackles for loss in 2016.
Away from the field, the 2015 Eagles Man of the Year became known as a champion for the environment. He is a spokesman for SEPTA, Philly's public transit system, as well as NRG Energy. He traveled with NRG twice to Haiti to install solar panels on an orphanage to provide reliable power.
During his time in Philadelphia, Barwin also established his foundation - Make The World Better (MTWB). He hosted three concerts in Philadelphia to raise $685,000 to revitalize parks in South Philadelphia.
When free agency opens at 4 p.m., teams can only hope to add players like Barwin, who performed on the field, led by example in the locker room, and made the community better than before he arrived.