Jets Free Agency: Initial grade and analysis of Anthony Barr
By Justin Fried
The New York Jets continued their hot start to free agency by signing former Minnesota Vikings linebacker/edge Anthony Barr.
Just when you thought that the New York Jets were done for the first night of the legal tampering period, the team has reportedly agreed to a deal for outside linebacker Anthony Barr.
Barr marks the third reported signing of the free agent period after the team came to terms with receivers Jamison Crowder and Josh Bellamy earlier in the day. This time, the Jets have opted to address defense in the form of the athletic Barr.
Originally selected as the ninth overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Barr wasted little time becoming an impact player making the Pro Bowl in just his second NFL season, a streak he would maintain for four consecutive seasons. This was despite the UCLA product playing an entirely different position than what he did in college.
Barr played four years at UCLA starting as an edge rusher, even picking up 23.5 sacks over the final two years of his collegiate career. He was seen as a hybrid prospect entering the draft and was eventually moved to an off-ball linebacker role with the Minnesota Vikings where he has spent the past five seasons.
Although the plan appears to give him a different kind of role with the Jets.
There have been no reported details at the moment. We will update this section as contract information comes out.
BREAKING: @nyjets expected to sign former Vikings LB @AnthonyBarr. (via @RapSheet) pic.twitter.com/WXofSQmBYc
— NFL (@NFL) March 12, 2019
Been saying for the last several days, and stressed last night, how much the #Jets loved Anthony Barr.
They got their guy. Source confirms, as @AdamSchefter said, the #Jets & Barr have agreed to terms on a contract.
— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) March 12, 2019
My understanding is that Anthony Barr, an off-ball LB in Minnesota, will be used the way he was at UCLA, meaning more of an edge player. #Jets
— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) March 12, 2019
For fans enticed by Kentucky’s Josh Allen in this year’s draft, think of Anthony Barr as his pro comparison. From an athletic standpoint and overall skill set, the two are very reminiscent of each other but their NFL careers could go very different ways.
Barr was drafted by the Vikings and immediately thrust into an off-ball linebacker role despite him playing primarily an edge rusher role in college. The results were varied as his play has slipped slightly in recent years but it wasn’t long ago that Barr was considered one of, if not the best off-ball outside linebacker in the league.
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Also, keep in mind he was still a Pro Bowler a year ago.
But it’s likely he will be much more than an off-ball linebacker with the Jets. Moreover, don’t expect him to solely be an edge rusher. Rather, Barr will likely play a sort of hybrid pass-rusher/off-ball role where he will be asked to do a variety of things such as rushing the passer as well as dropping back into coverage.
He will be new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams‘ ultimate chess piece.
Now, Barr will likely be looked at as more of an edge rusher than an off-ball linebacker, especially given that the Jets are still reportedly interested in adding linebacker C.J. Mosley. That said, don’t expect him to rush the passer on 100% of snaps.
This is a signing that does possess a greater risk than at first glance as asking a five-year veteran to play a role he hasn’t played since college can never be considered the “safe” move to make. Still, Barr is a versatile enough athlete to play anywhere in the front seven and Williams will hopefully be able to get the most out of his talent.
The Jets sure up their pass rush on day one of free agency with the addition of the multitalented and athletic Barr.