NY Jets: Mark Barron worth a look in free agency

Oct 4, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; St. Louis Rams strong safety Mark Barron (26) breaks up a pass intended for Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) during the first half at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 4, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; St. Louis Rams strong safety Mark Barron (26) breaks up a pass intended for Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) during the first half at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports /

The NY Jets need help bad at linebacker and their defensive secondary. Hybrid athlete Mark Barron would be a great acquisition to fill an immediate need and bring depth as well.

During a break in the snow, a few of my fellow Jet fan friends got together for coffee at a local crepe shop. Every time this group gathers, two things are guaranteed to happen. The first is the Jet talk will commence as soon as the “hey how you been’s” are complete, and the second is that the first disagreement will transpire thirty seconds later. It is always the way it’s been with this bunch, and I doubt it will ever change. Whether we’re gathered for the game at our local sports bar, or sitting in the dark on an overnight shark fishing trip, the talk is Jets and little else.

Anyway, as the crepes disappeared at an alarming rate, we were kicking around the newest names being connected to the Jets in the rumor mill that is known as the NFL offseason. With free agency in the front of everyone’s mind, there was plenty of talk about who the Jets may target, from the the logical to the absurd. Trade rumors were loudly debated, and even some draft talk filtered in. It was a great time, I left with lifted spirits, which I suspect was the real reason for the gathering in the first place.

During the conversation, we “stumbled” on an interesting thought from my buddy Frank. Frank threw Mark Barron‘s name into the ring, and after a rare moment of silence from these guys, the talk turned to the next name, but it stuck with me. Arriving home much later, I began to kick the idea around in my head, “Does Barron make sense?” I’m still not certain, but let’s take a look.

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Barron, if you don’t recall was a first round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Taken seventh overall, Barron was a highly touted safety coming out of the University of Alabama. He measured out as 6’2″ tall and tips the scale at 210 pounds while posting an official time of 4.50 in the forty yard dash at his Pro Day in 2012. Barron was highly regarded by many NFL teams, the predraft hype was in place long before Tampa chose him.

The NFL has not been kind to Barron’s game however. After playing in all sixteen games for Tampa in his rookie season, Barron suffered through a series of injuries in 2013 which caused him to miss two games. Barron’s play was less than spectacular in Tampa however, and the “bust” label was often heard surrounding the embattled safety’s name. Barron ended his tenure with the Buccaneers after nine games of the 2014 season, when he was traded to the Los Angeles Rams for a fourth and sixth round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

The Rams began to convert Barron to the linebacker position in 2014, and continued to play him there through 2015. The Rams however, have recently said they will not exercise the final year on Barron’s contract for 2016. Barron ended last season having played in all sixteen games for the Rams and posted 116 tackles, 79 solo tackles, a sack, four forced fumbles, 5 pass defenses and 18 run stuffs. The Rams’ announcement will allow Barron to test the free agency market.

Now I’m not going to compare the two athletes, but I began to wonder if Barron might fit into Todd Bowles schemes. As defensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals, Bowles used Deone Bucannon in a hybrid role and often had four safeties on the field. Bowles has continually said that the team needs to get younger and faster at linebacker, and while Barron isn’t a speedster, he is still only 26 years old.

Barron had a good year playing the hybrid role for the Rams last season, but he’s seen as a “reclamation project” by many analysts around the league. The safeties in free agency this offseason has some big names that might hit the market, including Eric Weddle, Eric Berry and George Iloka. As a result, Barron could become a cheap option at linebacker for the Jets.

Now before you all claim I’ve lost my mind, I’m not proposing the Jets run out and sign Barron, but I think he might be worth a look. The Jets’ linebacker corps has been thoroughly discussed on the pages here, the organization has acknowledged the need to get younger and faster at the position and it’s widely expected the position will be addressed this year. Why not take a look on the cheap?

Barron could give Bowles another tool in his defense if the Jets believe last year’s performance can be repeated. Barron showed he has enough speed to get into the backfield and disrupt plays and is certainly not afraid of contact in the box.

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The Jets have Jaiquawn Jarrett and Antonio Allen becoming free agent eligible at safety, while Calvin Pace, Erin Henderson, Demario Davis and Jamari Lattimore all will be eligible at the linebacker position. Barron’s experience at strong safety and linebacker might make him an option based on his versatility as well.

So, there’s Barron in a nutshell. He might or might not hold interest to the Jets, but I thought he’d be a fun name to kick around and discuss with my readers. Barron may be the bust many claim he is, or he could just be a late bloomer that just needs the right fit. What’s your take?