The Eagles released defensive end Connor Barwin on Thursday, a cost-cutting move that will save them $7.75 million in salary-cap space but send away a player who had been a four-year starter in their defense and a fixture in the Philadelphia community.
The transaction gives the Eagles $13.9 million in cap space hours before free agency opens.
Barwin, 30, transitioned from a 3-4 outside linebacker to a 4-3 defensive end last season and could not generate the sack production the Eagles needed around the edge. He finished with five sacks while starting all 16 games. Barwin played every game since signing with the Eagles in 2013 and is tied for 13th in franchise history with 31.5 sacks. His best year was 2014, when he reached the Pro Bowl and was named second-team all-pro after registering 14.5 sacks.
It was expected that the Eagles would move on from Barwin. They had been trying to trade Barwin, but releasing him Thursday gives Barwin a chance to find a suitor elsewhere on a new contract and allows the Eagles to be more active in free agency. He fits best in a 3-4 defense or a 4-3 hybrid scheme.
Barwin lived in Center City and became known for his philanthropy. He has about $4 million in parks projects around the city. The second phase of his Smith Playground reconstruction in South Philadelphia started Wednesday.
"Connor Barwin is a tremendous teammate, player and an even better person," Eagles executive Howie Roseman said in a statement. "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."
Barwin also posted a farewell statement on his Instagram feed: