Jets sign Antwan Barnes to a three-year deal

Desperate for a pass rushing presence, the New York Jets filled a major void on Monday by inking a proven pass-rusher in outside linebacker Antwan Barnes.

Former San Diego Chargers linebacker Antwan Barnes has signed a three year contract worth $4 million to join the New York Jets.

Barnes was taken by the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth round of the 2007 NFL draft out of Florida International University. He's played seven years in the NFL and during that time amassed 23.5 sacks in 78 career games. In 2011 he recorded 11 sacks, but in 2012 his production slipped as he finished the year with three sacks in 11 games.

The Jets defense has already lost some key contributors from last season, especially at the linebacker position. Last month the organization released five year starter Calvin Pace and defensive leader Bart Scott. Bryan Thomas is also a free agent and his return to the team is highly unlikely. The Jets are currently thin at linebacker and need to add depth.

The defense also lost both starting safeties in Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landy along with defensive lineman Mike Devito. Last week they released defensive tackle Siona Po'uha. The defense has been left depleted from this offseason.

Barnes would be the second former Chargers sign with the Jets this offseason; with New York reaching an agreement with defensive tackle Antonio Garay earlier in free agency.

Barnes could be a good start to rebuilding the defense due largely to his pass-rushing ability. Rex Ryan's defensive unit had trouble pressuring the quarterback last season; finishing the year tied for No. 25 in NFL with 30 sacks. Some of the Jets younger players showed promise towards the end of the season. Quinton Couples led the team with 5.5 sacks during his first year in the NFL. Second year defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson was second on the team with 5 sacks during 2012. Wilkerson showed he was gaining experience towards the back end of the schedule as he was a force that be reckoned with.

The Jets will give Barnes an opportunity to start with his main competition being Garret McIntyre and Ricky Sapp.

McIntyre displayed a strong performance towards the end of the season for the organization and should be in the hunt for a starting position. He finished the year with 35 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Sapp was promoted from to the active roster from the practice squad in November of last season, but he did not appear in a game for Gang Green.

Jets head coach Rex Ryan was the defensive coordinator for the Ravens when Barnes was on the roster during the 2007 and 2008 seasons.

The defense could take another blow in the near future if general manager John Idzik decides to trade All Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis. The Jets are in the midst of a ruined salary cap and are clearly not pursuing the big names in the free agent market. The Jets will continue down the road of signing second tier free agents and look towards the draft for answers.


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