Reaction: Barnes will help pass rush
March, 18, 2013
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com
Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY SportsAntwan Barnes spent the past three seasons with the San Diego Chargers.Quick thoughts on the Jets' signing of former Chargers OLB Antwan Barnes, who landed a three-year, $4 million contract:
1. FILLS A NEED: The Jets have gaping holes at outside linebacker. They cut Calvin Pace in a cap-related move and they're not planning to re-sign Bryan Thomas, leaving Garrett McIntyre and Ricky Sapp. Get the picture? Barnes could compete for a starting job, but he's best suited to a situational role as a pass rusher. He's done that his entire career. This won't preclude the Jets from picking an outside linebacker with the ninth overall pick, a decent possibility.
2. ANOTHER INJURED GUY: Barnes ended last season on the Chargers' injured-reserve list. Detect a trend? New GM John Idzik is signing players (at low cost) with injury histories. G Willie Colon missed most of the last three seasons, DT Antonio Garay suffered five season-ending injuries and QB David Garrard missed the past two years with back and knee injuries. The Jets' five free-agent signings played a combined total of only 43 games last season. It's a risky way to do business, but Idzik isn't paying for starting-caliber players here. He's trying to build depth. The only addition likely to start is Colon -- if healthy.
3. QUARTERBACK HUNTER: Getting to the quarterback isn't a foreign concept to Barnes, who has 23.5 career sacks in 78 games. His best year, not even close, was 2011. In 273 pass-rushing opportunities in '11, he was credited with 11 sacks and 29 quarterback hurries, according to ProFootballFocus.com. His numbers dropped way down last seaosn -- 140, three and 10, respectively. Part of that decline could be attributed to injuries; he also lost some playing time to No. 1 pick Melvin Ingram. Barnes played only 182 defensive snaps (17 percent) last season.
4. SCHEME FAMILIARITY: It should be an easy transition for Barnes because he's familiar with the Rex Ryan system. He played under Ryan and new defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman with the Ravens. He knows them, they know him. That helps a lot.
5. SCOUT'S VIEW: Here is what an AFC scout had to say about Barnes signing with the Jets: "He's an undersized edge-rusher type. His base defensive position will be outside linebacker, but I think he has more value in the sub than the base. I wouldn't hang my hat on the guy as a starter. He's more of a contributor, but in their situation, he may fall into it. I think if it's all lined up correctly, he's in the sub package."