Jet fans have been pleading with their favorite team to add a true pass rusher to the roster for years, now they finally got one in Antwan Barnes. After signing Antonio Garay and Willie Colon over the weekend, new GM John Idzik once again went bargain shopping with the addition of the veteran outside linebacker.
Earlier today Barnes tweeted, “Green and white it is… just want to thank coach rex coach DT and mr idzik for the opportunity.. and to the fans I won’t let you down #jets.” It seems Barnes was a bit too excited and jumped the gun as an hour later he tweeted, “Wait a minute… not official yet… in talks now… #letsgetadealdone.” But now Manish Mehta of the NY Daily News is reporting the deal is in fact done.
Barnes is a seven year veteran who has familiarity with Rex Ryan from their time in Baltimore, where Barnes began his pro football career. Barnes had his best season in 2011, gathering 11 sacks before his played dropped off significantly last year, just three sacks and seven total tackles in only 11 games, as he had to end his season early because of a hamstring injury.
With the Jets having released Calvin Pace and Bart Scott they need help at the linebacker position and as stated before even with those guys the Jets needed an outside linebacker who can rush the passer.
Barnes is a low-risk, high-reward signing (Mehta reported it’s a “three-year deal, $900,000 to sign. $1.2 million in year two. $1.2 million in year three. Incentives in years two and three ) who, if he can stay healthy, could potentially offer Ryan a weapon on defense he hasn’t had in his time here, an actual designated pass rusher.
They’ve tried it with Aaron Maybin, they hoped Pace would have provided that for them but he never lived up to their pass rushing expectations. Barnes will likely serve as a pass rushing specialist only seeing the field on passing downs, but on those plays the Jets hope his speed around the edges of either Quinton Coples or Muhammad Wilkerson will lead to more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
The Jets are still very much interested in outside linebacker Victor Butler (Cowboys, had visits with the Steelers and Saints), who is younger and has much more upside, and they will still look to the draft to restock their linebacking core, but the reunion of Ryan and Barnes will have to do for now as the Jets continue their discount shopping to address both, immediate improvement and long-term cap flexibility.