The Eagles announced Thursday morning the release of defensive end Connor Barwin, ending his four-year run in Philadelphia. In his time in Philly, Barwin was a solid player on the field, but became a champion for the city through his work in the community, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars through his Philly-based charity, an impact that will be missed far more than his production on the field.
For being here just four seasons, Barwin certainly put down roots. His work in the Philly community, through his Make the World Better Foundation, has raised $200,000 through his annual concert just last year. All proceeds from the event at Union Transfer were matched by Barwin and were donated to help renovate the Waterloo Playground at 2501 Waterloo St. in West Kensington. Barwin’s charity raised more than $685,000 for park renovations in the City of Philadelphia. He said in a statement on Instagram the renovations and the concerts will continue, even though he won’t be around as much to see the projects through.
Barwin is big on green initiatives too — not just Eagles green — helping to make Philadelphia a more environmentally-friendly community. Yes, that includes the bike-riding and the use of public transportation. We know that you know, but here’s the video again, one last time.
He has been politically active in the community as well, visiting with protesters during the recent GOP retreat in Philly.
Barwin is also just kind of a cool dude. He listens to hip music and has a snazzy haircut and Vice Sports asked him two years ago if he was a hipster, to which his response was, “I don’t know if you can be a hipster and play in the NFL. I don’t know.” How hipstery of him.
Barwin has played eight seasons in the NFL and started 65 games for the Birds, racking up 163 tackles, 55 assisted, with 31.5 sacks in his time in Philly. He thrived during his first three seasons with the Eagles — his 14.5 sacks in 2014 helped earn him a Pro Bowl nod — but his production dropped immensely in his first season under new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, as he struggled to make an impact on the field much at all in 2016. He had just 20 tackles, 14 assisted, last season with five sacks.
Barwin’s release saves the Eagles $7.5 million against the 2017 salary cap, freeing up needed space to sign free agents as the new league year begins. The team reportedly tried to trade Barwin but when no partners panned out, they rightly released him now, before the official start of free agency, in hopes he can catch on with another team quickly.
San Francisco would make sense for Barwin, as the team is in desperate need of talent and veteran leadership. The 49ers’ new defensive coordinator is Robert Saleh, the linebackers coach in Jacksonville the last two years who was a defensive assistant in Houston back when Barwin was with the Texans.
There should be other interest as well, and Barwin may be inclined to field more local offers if they arise. He told Billy Penn food and culture editor Danya Henninger at an event last month that he would prefer to stay close to Philly — Baltimore or one of the New York teams perhaps — because his fiancée lives and works in Philly, and his charity is based here.
Barwin will be missed, both as a member of the Eagles and, perhaps more so, as a member of the community. Clearly, he’s going to miss the city too.