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Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon explains the main reason why he was so adamant to recruit Ryan Kerrigan

Ryan Kerrigan landing with the Philadelphia Eagles was one of the most surprising signings of the offseason, considering the three-time Pro Bowl edge rusher spent a decade playing for the Eagles’ NFC East rivals in Washington. The Eagles were third in the NFL in sacks last season, yet added one of the most accomplished pass rushers over the last decade to give the group an added boost.

Kerrigan’s accomplishments with Washington weren’t why the Eagles strongly pursued him. Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon was the biggest recruiter in trying to get him to Philadelphia, not just because of what he has left in the tank. 

“I wanted to get Ryan here a lot. The number one reason is the person that he is,” Gannon said on a conference call at Eagles OTAs Thursday. “We have a very good, strong locker room of really good character guys, I feel, and the pieces that we added, him being one of those pieces, the first thing that Nick and I talked about with Howie was we want to bring really high character guys in here, whoever that be, whether that be draft picks or coaches or free agents.”

Kerrigan told John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia on his Takeoff with John Clark podcast that Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox were also trying to recruit him to the Eagles when he visited the NovaCare Complex, explaining that was “one of the big factors in coming to Philly.” 

“The guys and the coaches were reaching out constantly,” Kerrigan said. “And that really felt good. I really felt wanted there. Howie Roseman called me, Nick Sirianni — they made it very clear they wanted me to be part of the team and thought I could really help them. The way they made me feel and how welcome they made me feel was huge.” 

Kerrigan is one of only four players in the NFL have 90-plus sacks and 25-plus forced fumbles (Von Miller, Chandler Jones, and J.J. Watt) over the last 10 years. He’s one of just three players in league history to have 60-plus sacks and three interception returns for touchdowns, joining Julius Peppers and Jason Taylor on that elite list. 

Kerrigan had pressure on 4.16% of his defensive snaps in 2020, slightly ahead of Josh Sweat at 3.98%. His sack percentage of 1.43% is only behind Sweat (1.49%) for tops on Eagles’ players returning from the 2020 pass rush. 

The Eagles defensive front is better with Kerrigan on it, mainly because of the immediate contribution he’ll bring to the rotation. 

“Super excited, the versatility that he brings and the production that he brings,” Gannon said. “He’s a hard guy to block. He’s extremely intelligent. I’m looking forward to getting our hands on him and working with him.”