First of all, the fact that he has been in the league for 10 years is a factor. 10 years, 1,029 tackles, and 31 years of age means that Nick Barnett has a lot of mileage on him. On a team that was most vulnerable at the linebacker position, this must be taken into consideration.
We have talked about his eight healthy seasons, but what about the other two? In those seasons, he had some pretty rough injuries. In 2008, for example, Barnett was limited to 9 games after tearing a ligament in his knee. In 2010, Nick’s season ended during his fourth game of the year thanks to a wrist injury suffered against the Lions. So it’s been a good career as far as health, but not perfect.
What is a big need for the New York Jets? We have talked about it many times….the pass rush. The Jets need to get to the quarterback far more often than they do. Can Nick Barnett help us with that? Well, let’s see. PFF has a unique stat called “Pass Rushing Productivity”or PRP, which looks at QB sacks, hits, and hurries based upon how often the player rushes the passer, and gives them a rating.
Calvin Pace, for example, recorded a 7.5 rating in PRP, leading the Jets’ outside linebackers. Barnett actually recorded a rating lower than Pace’s with a 7.2. If he can’t put up a rating higher than Calvin “T-Rex” Pace, is he really going to help us in the pass rush? Not much.
Where else have the Jets linebackers been vulnerable? Defending in pass coverage. Was anyone really able to watch those guys in pass coverage, without either hiding, or laughing? I certainly know that I couldn’t. Admittedly, Nick Barnett had a higher ranking in pass coverage than the Jets outside linebackers with a 1.9. But, there is a catch.
That catch? Take a look at his number from 2011 and you will see what I mean. In 2011, Barnett put up a rating of 7.9, and he went DOWN to his 1.9 in 2012. What could that tell us? Well, it could tell us that he had an off year in that category, however PFF doesn’t go far back enough to really give us a trend. But, if you add the drop off from 2011-2012, and combine that with his age, you can reasonably conclude that he has gotten slower. And THAT, we don’t need.
So to me? With all of his good attributes, there are enough reasons to pass on Barnett. Look to the younger players, instead of another stop gap player at this position.