Report: Jets showing interest in free agent OLB Anthony Barr
By Justin Fried
Per a report from Connor Hughes of The Athletic, the New York Jets have shown a lot of interest in signing OLB Anthony Barr once free agency begins.
The New York Jets are desperately in need of help at the edge rusher position entering free agency and unfortunately, the market appears to be very thin. But there may just be a solid option hiding in the shadows in outside linebacker Anthony Barr.
A recent report from Connor Hughes of The Athletic has indicated that the Jets are very interested in signing Barr once free agency kicks off in under a week. The former Minnesota Vikings linebacker could represent a high-upside target in a free agent class full off replacement-level players.
Barr originally entered the league as the ninth overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft. The UCLA product was an intriguing prospect coming out of college as he had spent his junior and senior seasons as a star edge rusher for the Bruins.
Because of his versatility, however, NFL teams weren’t sure whether he would play a 3-4 edge rusher role of a 4-3 off-ball linebacker role at the next level. Barr had an impressive pass rush pedigree accumulating 23.5 sacks over his final two collegiate seasons, but also was considered an above average coverage linebacker. His speed and athleticism allowed him to do much more than just rush the passer.
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Despite this, the Vikings drafted him and opted to play him exclusively as an off-ball linebacker perhaps limiting his overall impact. Regardless, the cream would rise to the top as Barr went on to make the Pro Bowl in four of his first five NFL seasons establishing himself as one of the best off-ball outside linebackers in the league.
However, his play dipped slightly over the last two seasons and his coverage ability isn’t what it was a couple of years ago. Still only 26-years-old, Barr finds himself hitting the free agent market in an interesting position.
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While he has played as an off-ball linebacker for his entire professional career thus far, his prior success as an edge rusher will likely intrigue teams looking to sign Barr at a more impactful position. That combined with his four consecutive Pro Bowl appearances should make him a highly desired option once free agency begins.
The Jets will undoubtedly have the money to make a serious push for Barr and it appears that the interest is there.
For fans who are big fans of Kentucky’s Josh Allen in this year’s draft, look no further than Barr for a pro comparison. Both have shown the versatility to play off-ball and edge rusher with ample athleticism to boot. The only difference is teams will likely keep Allen at his natural edge rusher position.
Signing Barr would give the Jets their best option at edge rusher in years as it’s unlikely they’d keep him at off-ball linebacker with Darron Lee and Avery Williamson manning the middle of the defense. A position switch could be just what the doctor order for the uber-talented Barr and perhaps the Jets could be the team to finally unlock Barr’s full potential.
It’s a marriage that seems made in football heaven.