Three months ago, Connor Barwin didn't retire. He simply "stopped playing football."
After a 10-year career, his most productive stretch a four-year span in Philadelphia from 2013-16, Barwin kicked off the transition to the next phase of his football career. He reached out to executive vice president/general manager Howie Roseman offering to help the Eagles in any way possible. Over the second half of the season, Barwin visited the NovaCare Complex at least once a week to mentor the young players on the team. Now with the offseason underway, Barwin and Roseman finalized a full-time role.
Barwin's official title is special assistant to the general manager. In the offseason, Barwin will aid the personnel staff in scouting talent. During the season, Barwin will focus on player development, especially for those making the jump from college ball to the NFL.
It's a slam-dunk move for the Eagles, who welcome back a leader who helped set the culture that provided the foundation for the Super Bowl team in 2017. On the field, Barwin had 31.5 sacks as an Eagle, including a career-high 14.5 in 2014 that earned him Pro Bowl honors. Barwin ingrained himself as a fixture in the Philadelphia community, starting his Make The World Better Foundation and twice being nominated by the team for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.
"I'm done playing football, but my football career is not over," Barwin told Dave Spadaro for an upcoming episode of the Eagles Insider Podcast presented by Lincoln Financial Group. "I want to stay involved. I want to help this team wherever I can and also learn the other side of the game from the coaches and the personnel side. There's still a lot that I can learn about the on-field part of the game, as well. I love being around the game. I still want to win a Super Bowl, multiple Super Bowls."
Barwin attended the East-West Shrine Bowl practices earlier this week and will be on hand for the Senior Bowl next week in Mobile, Alabama.
"I got to be around a lot of really talented players. You start to recognize what that mental makeup looks like, what personalities want to make it," Barwin said. "Ultimately, there's going to be adversity, whether it's personally or for the team. You want to be around guys that can persevere through that. I've seen that after 10 years of playing. Hopefully, I can identify that when I'm going to look at college players and other guys around the league."
Barwin was a second-round pick of the Houston Texans out of Cincinnati in 2009. He played for the Texans for four years before signing with the Eagles as an unrestricted free agent. He spent his final two seasons with the Los Angeles Rams and the New York Giants, respectively. He prepared to play an 11th season in 2019. When Training Camp started, though, Barwin spent time with his family and organized his life after moving around so much the previous few years. On Sundays in the fall, Barwin was keeping his eyes on the Eagles.
"It was a great finish. It was unbelievable to see what they did with guys that hadn't ever played football in the NFL," Barwin said of the four-game win streak in December to capture the NFC East title. "A lot of credit goes to the leaders on this team, the coaching staff, Howie and Andy Weidl for putting together a pretty, pretty deep roster. There were a lot of positives to take out of the last month of the season."
Even though he is already familiar with the landscape in Philadelphia, Barwin brings the experience of spending time with three other organizations.
"I got to play for a bunch of really great coaches and look inside how other organizations are run," Barwin said. "That's some insight that I can bring to the Eagles."