According to NJ.com’s Mark Eckel, the Indianapolis Colts could potentially become a trade suitor for Philadelphia Eagles pass rusher Connor Barwin in an offseason trade:
"“If they cut him, teams will be lining up for him (Barwin),” a pro personnel man with another NFC team said. “He wouldn’t be out of a job for long. I would think they could trade him and get something back. He has value. His deal this year isn’t that bad.”“Among the teams who could have interest in Barwin are the Green Bay Packers, the Baltimore Ravens and the Indianapolis Colts to name just three,” writes Eckel. “All of those teams have room under the cap and not coincidentally all three teams use a 3-4 defensive scheme.”"
Of course, it appears that Eckel isn’t actually reporting that the Colts have expressed any sort of prior interest in Barwin.
Rather, he’s merely speculating the possibility given Indianapolis’ exorbitant amount of cap space, dire need for a pass rusher, and the fact that the team deploys a 3-4 defensive scheme–which clearly better suits Barwin.
The 30 year old pass rusher is coming off a season in which he recorded 34 tackles, 5.0 sacks, and a forced fumble in 16 starts–playing in the Eagles 4-3 defensive scheme, as a ‘defensive end’.
However, Barwin is much more effective as a free-standing outside linebacker in a 3-4 defensive scheme, having combined for 21.5 sacks in his two seasons prior with the Eagles in such a scheme.
Any team that trades for Barwin would be undertaking a $7.75 million cap hit, so while he could be a more cost efficient alternative than some of the proven pass rushers that will hit the open free agent market, he’s not exactly cheap either.
In my opinion, it would make more sense for the Colts to find a younger option as a pass rusher at outside linebacker, as the 8-year veteran is due a $10.25 million cap hit in 2018–meaning he may be nothing more than a 1-year rental for any acquiring team.
Obviously, the Colts have some familiarity with Barwin, as he was a standout pass rusher for their divisional rival, the Houston Texans, from 2009-12 before signing with Philadelphia.
The Colts clearly have a need at pass rusher too, as the franchise’s all-time career sack leader Robert Mathis recently retired, while last season’s sack leader, Erik Walden, is set to become a free agent.
However, the Colts need to get younger at linebacker as a whole and acquiring another player set to enter the wrong side of 30 isn’t exactly a sustained recipe for success again.
If the Colts were ‘one player away’ from contending on defense, then yes, maybe Indianapolis makes such a move. However, in my opinion, the Colts shouldn’t trade for a player who has very few remaining ‘peak’ years left and pay him a premium, when the team is clearly ‘rebuilding’ for at least another season or so.
By the time the Colts are ready to seriously contend (or at least hopefully), Barwin will already be 32-33 years old, so it’s not really helping Indianapolis in the big picture, grand scheme of things–even if the veteran pass rusher could help at least in the immediate future.