Jets Could Kick Tires on Boom-Bust Former 1st Round Pass Rusher

Derek Barnett Eagles

Getty Philadelphia Eagles pass rusher Derek Barnett walking off the field after a tough game.

The New York Jets have plenty of cash to burn in free agency, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they should put all their eggs into just a few baskets.

Another strategy that could bear some nice fruit is a series of one-year prove-it deals.

One insider believes that could be the strategy the team employs with a former first-rounder from their past.

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A Connection From the Past

Philadelphia Eagles pass rusher Derek Barnett is set to be an unrestricted free agent on March 16.

The former first-rounder originally entered the league as the No. 14 overall pick out of Tennessee in the 2017 NFL draft.

Over the last five years, he has been a rotational pass rusher but has never developed into the double-digit sack artist the Eagles thought he would be:

  • 21.5 sacks
  • 36 tackles for loss
  • 76 quarterback hits

While it hasn’t happened yet, several NFL teams still believe they can maximize his talents in their schemes. One of those teams very well could be the Jets.

General manager Joe Douglas crossed over for three seasons with Barnett from 2017 through 2019 during their time together with the Eagles.

Now they could reunite with the green and white in 2022.

A Deal That Works out for Both Sides

Connor Hughes of The Athletic suggested that Barnett could take a similar path that another veteran pass rusher took a few years ago.

Shaq Barrett shook free from the Denver Broncos and signed a one-year prove-it deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019. He bet on himself and it paid off in a major way as he parlayed that into a long-term big-money deal.

Barnett is coming off of a very weird year in 2021. On one hand, he started more games than he ever has (15) but he also ended up with the fewest sacks of his career (two).

That should keep his price on the open market very reasonable which should be music to Douglas’ ears.

This would be a win-win for both sides if this comes to fruition in free agency.

Barnett would get a chance to play with some uber-talented players like Carl Lawson, Quinnen Williams, and Bryce Huff. That would allow him to take advantage of favorable matchups so he can wrack up the stats.

While from the Jets side of things they would get a player on a bargain deal. If they like what they see they’ll have first dibs on potentially re-signing him.

Of course, if things flop, then a no harm, no foul strategy would be employed. You could simply let him walk in 2023 and go find your EDGE rush answers elsewhere.

Quite frankly this is a pairing in free agency that makes too much sense not to happen. This would be a perfect fit between player and team based on familiarity and opportunity for both sides of the equation.

Barnett is still only 25 years old (will be 26 by the start of the 2022 season) and has plenty of gas left in the tank.

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