One of the Baltimore Ravens biggest needs this offseason is improving the pass-rush. With Terrell Suggs in the twilight of his career, and Elvis Dumervil probably on the chopping block, the Ravens will have to address the position in the draft and during the free agent process.
Matt Judon showed promise in 2016, and Za'Darius Smith demonstrated his abilities in 2015. Smith regressed in 2016, but is primed for a bounce back season, especially if the Ravens add to the position and give Smith, Judon, and Suggs some back-up.
With free agency approaching next month, it sounds like the Ravens will indeed be in the market for a pass-rusher, including one from head coach John Harbaugh's old stomping ground, the Philadelphia Eagles.
Sources told Mark Eckel of NJ.com that Eagles defensive end Connor Barwin will have a "handful of suitors" this offseason if the Eagles decide to cut or trade Barwin. Eckel lists three teams possibly interested in Barwin: Indianapolis Colts, Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Ravens. All three teams are in need of pass-rushing help and Barwin would fit the bill nicely.
One of the biggest reasons why Barwin may be on the way out of the city of brotherly love, is because of the Eagles 4-3 defensive scheme under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. Barwin was not a good fit as a hand-on-the-ground defensive end, accumulating only five sacks in 2016. Compared this to the previous two seasons in the 3-4 defense Philadelphia ran under then-defensive coordinator Billy Davis, Barwin notched 21.5 sacks. Including 14.5 sacks in 2014. Barwin also had 244 tackles in the three seasons he played under Davis, before the hiring of Jim Schwartz.
Eckel says Barwin is scheduled to make $7.75 million this season, and is a salary-cap hit of $8.35 million, fifth highest on the team. Cutting or trading Barwin would save the Eagles the $7.75 million in cap space and carry $600,000 in dead money. He does leave the option of Barwin staying with the Eagles if they decide to restructure his contract.
Overall, this situation will be very interesting to monitor in the coming weeks. If Barwin is available, the Ravens should do their very best to get him on board. Barwin produced very nicely in the 3-4 defense in Philadelphia, the same scheme the Ravens and defensive coordinator Dean Pees operate. Barwin would help add to a pass-rush needing reinforcements and could be a game-changer along with guys like Suggs and Judon. Also, an acquisition like Barwin would lessen the pressure for Ozzie Newsome to get a pass-rusher in the early rounds of the draft, giving his scouting team more focus on other needs like cornerback and wide receiver. As we all know, an Ozzie Newsome with more cards to play on the draft table is the best possible scenario. Getting Barwin would set the tone for the Ravens offseason nicely.