During Monday night’s beatdown in Dallas, there was a moment when Derek Barnett was called for a defensive offside and a camera caught Nick Sirianni mouthing, “It’s always him.”
Well, it’s not always him.
But it’s him far too often.
The penalty from Barnett was his second of this season — the Eagles lead the league with 35 — and it was the 20th of his five-year career.
“It’s something I need to correct and I continue to work on,” Barnett said in a rare interview with reporters on Friday afternoon. “Can’t put my team in a tough position, even if it’s 5 yards, 10, whatever it is. If I’m hurting the team in that way, we’re not focused on the main goal, which is winning. So I need to correct that issue.”
Barnett, 25, said that he and Sirianni have discussed penalties in the days since the game.
The frustrating thing is that Barnett isn’t a rookie anymore. He’s in the fifth year of his NFL career and penalties — especially personal fouls — have been following him.
The offsides call on Barnett in the second quarter on Monday turned a 3rd-and-7 into a 3rd-and-2. The Cowboys picked up the first down and ended up scoring a touchdown on that drive to put them up 20-7.
And in the previous game, his unnecessary roughness penalty turned a 3rd-and-15 from the 49ers’ own 27-yard line into a 1st-and-10 from their own 42.
“I think I just have to be smarter when I’m on the field,” Barnett said. “I know we’re out there, we’ve got live bullets flying, it’s just kind of a different environment. I just have to be smarter in those situations and not continue to make the same mistakes over and over again.”
Some of the frustration the fan base feels with Barnett is because he was a first-round pick (No. 14 overall) back in the 2017 draft. While Barnett has been decent and has had very good moments, he hasn’t lived up to that draft status.
During his first four years, Barnett has fought through injuries and has just 19 1/2 total sacks. Sacks aren’t the only metric by which to evaluate edge rushers — he does have 67 QB hits, which is a significant total — it’s still fair to say he hasn’t become a star player.
The good news for Barnett is that despite an injury in training camp, he has remained healthy in the early portion of this season.
The Eagles for the 2021 season picked up Barnett’s fifth-year option, which means he had a salary of $10 million. Eventually, they reworked that deal to help with salary cap space but Barnett will become a free agent following this season.
Just a couple weeks ago, Josh Sweat signed a $40 million extension to stay with the Eagles through the 2024 season.
What does that mean for Barnett’s future?
“I was excited when Josh signed his contract because he had a great camp and he’s been working his butt off and you can see his improvements every day,” Barnett said. “I was very excited. When it comes to myself personally, when that situation comes, and we get there, it’ll take care of itself.”
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