Over the course of the next two weeks we will examine each of the Philadelphia Eagles 2013 free-agent signings and off-season additions and look at how they contributed to this year's NFC East championship team both on and off the field.
LB: Connor Barwin
A strong case can be made for Connor Barwin being the glue that holds the 2013 free agent class together, in addition to being defensive coordinator Billy Davis' "Jack of All Trades" on defense.
Barwin, signed away from the Houston Texans last March not only reunited him with former Texans teammate DeMeco Ryans but also added a strong veteran presence to a defense that seemingly lacked direction in 2012.
Fast forward to 2013 and Barwin was an integral component to a defense that held 10 of it's final 12 opponents below 21 points per game and steadily took footing in Davis' 3-4 scheme.
Being able to play for a winner and be part of a winning culture was a crucial part of Barwin's decision to sign with the Eagles after spending his first four NFL seasons as a member of the Texans.
“I thought we’d be able to compete right away based on the players we had on offense and defense,’’ said the 27-year-old Barwin."(The Eagles) were 4-12, but every starter on the offensive line was injured. That makes it hard to win games."
By season's end Barwin finished with 59 tackles, five sacks and one interception.
The sack total while not all that impressive, stands out because being a pass rusher wasn't Barwin's primary role as Davis moved him around throughout the scheme.
"I think that fits my skill-set," Barwin said of taking on the less glamorous role and not focusing on rushing the passer. "Whatever way Billy wants to use me next season. Obviously, who knows how it will evolve next year. I can see myself being in a similar role or doing something different next year depending on where this defense is at that point. Billy did a nice job of utilizing our talent this year."
Signing Grade: A
Given Barwin's playmaking ability both in the pass rush and in coverage, along with the leadership jolt he added to the locker room, it's difficult to grade this signing any lower than a solid "A".
Matt Lombardo is the Editor-In-Chief of Eagledelphia and also an on-air personality on 97.5 FM The Fanatic in Philadelphia. Join the conversation and follow Matt on Twitter.