Unlike safety Glover Quin, the situation around Houston Texans outside linebacker Connor Barwin is murky. Cloudy. Fuzzy. Hazy. Nebulous. Perplexing. Puzzling. You get the idea, right?
Determining a market value for the former Cincinnati Bearcat is difficult because there are so many questions surrounding him. Was 2012 a fluke season or was 2011 the fluke year? How much are you willing to gamble on that? Is he going to be paid as a defensive end or a linebacker? Pass-rushing tends to be overpaid, but is he a pass-rushing linebacker? How can you give millions and millions of dollars to a player who has a total of 19 sacks in four seasons? Where does he rank among pass-rushers, especially free-agents-to-be?
Again, this is not an easy situation, but let's try and spell it out to find a solution to our riddle.
First thing's first, throw out the franchise tag idea. Not only should it be reserved for Quin, should a deal not get done, but Barwin's price tag is too rich for the cap-strapped(?) Texans. Even though he would be tagged as a linebacker, due to two seasons as such, the number is too high. The 2013 franchise tag is tentatively set to be $9.455 million. That money could be put to better use, if the Texans have it, like a wide receiver and/or nose tackle and/or third safety.
As for the defensive end versus outside linebacker argument, it's hard to say. Some 4-3 team could determine Barwin is a defensive end and offer him as such. I don't believe he is. Barwin has a linebacker's body, has been playing there for two seasons, had his best season at the position, and last played defensive end regularly in 2009. I also think the defensive end route is a limited market. There are better options out there in free agency and the 2013 NFL Draft is stocked with talent. With more teams moving to a 3-4 and fewer big target free agents, I think you'll see Barwin stick in the outside linebacker category. That's how I would view any negotiation with him.
Houston Texans Free Agents and the Connor Barwin Conundrum
Battle Red Blog | Feb 7