Philadelphia Eagles fans are wondering if Barnett’s breakout will ever come.
We heard it in 2018. Then, after his sophomore NFL season ended after just six games, we gave him a pass for Year 2. Then, Philadelphia Eagles fans began to repeat something again in both 2019 and now as 2020 regular season looms on every football fan’s horizon.
It wouldn’t be a true Eagles offseason for what might be the NFL’s most loyal fanbase if there weren’t premonitions or discussions of a breakout season for Derek Barnett, a man who, believe it or not, is already entering his fourth season as a pro.
It may not seem like it now, but the addition of the man who wears “96” was a bit of a surprise for a city and a nation of fans who ironically hosted 2017’s version of the NFL Draft. Cornerback was the most pressing need on defense, not defensive end, so when the announcement was made that the “Birds” were making the former Tennessee Volunteers standout the 14th-overall selection in that year’s selection meeting, there was a hint of stunned silence (and a few Derek Barnett searches on Google).
Philly took their cornerback in Round 2, Sidney Jones, and despite the fact that they knew Year 1 would basically be a redshirt season for the man who tore his Achilles just weeks before the selection meeting, hope still sprang eternal in our collective breasts. It appeared the Eagles had two young defensive stars that would help usher them into the future.
So far it hasn’t worked out that way, and there are questions about whether Jones will still be an Eagle after this season and if the decision to exercise Barnett’s fifth-year option on his rookie deal was a wise one. Here are Barnett’s two biggest areas where he can improve and two thoughts on each one.