Eagles sign Ryan Kerrigan, and Lane Johnson is happy to welcome a nemesis to Philadelphia
He had 5½ sacks in a reserve role last year and joins a rotation that includes Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat, Tarron Jackson, Joe Ostman and Matt Leo. He's played in four Pro Bowls.
Over nearly a decade as the Eagles’ right tackle, Lane Johnson has made clear his respect for Ryan Kerrigan. So Johnson was excited about Monday’s news that Washington’s all-time sack leader was signing with the Eagles.
Johnson said he met with Kerrigan when the 32-year-old edge rusher visited the NovaCare complex a few days ago.
“We had breakfast together,” Johnson said. “He’s ready to get to work. ... He can teach a lot of things to a lot of guys.”
Kerrigan spent the first 10 years of his career compiling 95½ sacks for the Washington Football Team. He transitioned into a reserve role last season, and Washington let him become a free agent. Johnson said he thought Kerrigan was deciding between the Eagles and the Vikings when they spoke during Kerrigan’s visit. The contract is for one year at an undisclosed number.
Kerrigan’s 13½ sacks against the Eagles and Cowboys are tied for his highest total against any team. He has 13 against the New York Giants, so you could say he has treated offensive lines all over the division pretty poorly.
“That’s big time for us,” Johnson said. “From a production standpoint, he’s off the charts, and he’s a great leader as well. ... If I ever let my foot off the gas, he would find a way to beat me.”
In his announcement on Instagram, Kerrigan, who has played in four Pro Bowls, acknowledged his success against his new team.
“I know I probably wasn’t your favorite player over the past decade, but [Eagles] fans, I’m fired up to be playing for you guys now!” Kerrigan wrote.
Kerrigan, who notched 5½ sacks last year, will join a rotation that includes Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat, Tarron Jackson, Joe Ostman, and Matt Leo. Under former defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, the Eagles typically settled on a four-man rotation at defensive end and often sought out veteran edge rushers to fill out the back end.
Chris Long was an important reserve rusher for the team for the 2017-18 seasons, and Michael Bennett was a similar player for the team in 2018. Last year, Vinny Curry was the fourth man in the team’s rotation for most of the season, but he signed with the New York Jets in free agency.
Kerrigan played 38% of Washington’s defensive snaps last year, and figures to take a similar share of plays with the Eagles. By comparison, Curry played 28% of the team’s defensive snaps last season, although he was battling a hamstring injury for part of the year.
Long, now retired, also was 32 when he signed with the Eagles.
“Chris was pivotal to our Super Bowl run,” said Johnson, who agreed that Kerrigan could be a similar figure.
Kerrigan’s scheme fit will be an interesting one to monitor. He has played both 4-3 defensive end and 3-4 outside linebacker in varying schemes with Washington. He’ll likely spend his time as a conventional defensive end in a three-point stance, but we don’t know enough about new defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon’s scheme to know how he might deploy his new addition.
Pro Football Focus noted that both Long and Bennett raised their pass-rush grades the season they signed with the Eagles. Kerrigan’s pass-rush grade last season was 69.9, his lowest since 2015, and his overall grade of 59.7 was the lowest of his career.
In Washington, Kerrigan wore No. 91. It’s unlikely Fletcher Cox is going to give that one up, so Kerrigan probably will be changing more than just the color of his uniform.
Phase 2? Eagles vets likely to report
Monday was COVID-19 testing for Phase 2 of the NFL’s offseason program, which for the Eagles is scheduled to begin Tuesday. Player statements from the Eagles and many other teams indicated that veterans would follow NFL Players Association guidance and avoid on-field work at the voluntary workouts. But a source said Monday that Eagles veterans do plan to attend.
The source indicated that on-field work would be minimal, with new coach Nick Sirianni mostly interested in installing the team’s new offense and defense.
One vet not expected to show up is tight end Zach Ertz, still awaiting trade or release. Trading or releasing Ertz after June 1 would free up about $8.5 million in salary cap space, vs. a little less than $5 million trading or releasing him before that.