Outside linebacker Connor Barwin is no longer a part of the "Bulls on Parade," the popular nickname he helped create for the Texans' defense in 2011.
Barwin signed a six-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday evening, leaving the Texans as an unrestricted free agent. His deal with the Eagles is worth $36 million with a max of $40 million and $8 million in guarantees, according to NFL reporter Adam Caplan.
Barwin, 26, was offered a contract by the Texans before the start of last season after recording a team-high 11.5 sacks in 2011. After he and the Texans could not come to an agreement, he opted to play out the final year of his rookie deal. He had just 3.0 sacks in 2012, a stark drop-off, but did play 94 percent of the Texans' defensive snaps, more than any other player in the front seven.
A second-round draft pick out of Cincinnati in 2009, Barwin had 19.0 sacks in four seasons with the Texans. He had 4.0 sacks as a rookie defensive end before missing most of his second season with a broken ankle. Barwin was popular among Houston fans for his eccentric hairstyle, interactions with the public on Twitter and affinity for live music and other events throughout the city.
Whitney Mercilus, the Texans' 2012 first-round pick out of Illinois, should now step into a full-time starting role at weakside linebacker for the Texans. Mercilus started four games as a rookie and had 6.0 sacks, tying Brooks Reed's 2011 team rookie record.
Reed, a second-round pick from Arizona, has started 23 games with 8.5 sacks in two seasons. He also has 5.0 sacks in four playoff games. The Texans have talked about possibly moving Reed to inside linebacker next to Brian Cushing, but they may opt to keep him outside on the strongside now that Barwin is no longer in the mix.
Barwin is the third member of the Texans' 2009 draft class to leave the team since free agency began on Tuesday. Fullback James Casey signed a five-year deal with the Eagles on Tuesday. Free safety Glover Quin signed a five-year deal with the Detroit Lions on Wednesday.
The Texans hosted free agent safety Ed Reed, a nine-time Pro Bowler with the Baltimore Ravens, for a free agent visit on Thursday.