The Jets had agreements with two of the most impactful linebackers in free agency by early Tuesday morning. By the afternoon, they had only one. Anthony Barr changed his mind and backed out of his verbal agreement with the Jets, a league source confirmed. Instead, Barr is returning to the Vikings.
That decision came hours after the Jets came to terms with former Ravens inside linebacker C.J. Mosley. The four-time Pro Bowler reportedly will sign a five-year, $85 million contract, with $51 million of it guaranteed.
Deals can be signed and announced beginning at 4 p.m. Wednesday. The fact that Barr was not permitted to sign his deal cost the Jets a chance at really strengthening their defense. The Jets moved on, but this was a big hit for a team that appeared to be building a strong linebacking corps for coordinator Gregg Williams.
Mosley and Barr were going to give Williams two versatile players who fit well with his attacking style. But Barr slept on it Monday night and decided he wanted to stay with Minnesota, the only team he’s played for in his five-year career.
Details of what the Jets had offered Barr have not been released, but he reportedly took less to stay with Minnesota. The Vikings’ deal is said to be $67.5 million over five years after they upped the offer Monday night.
But the Jets did get a playmaker in Mosley, and presuming he doesn’t do the same as Barr, the Jets have upgraded at linebacker. The Ravens wanted Mosley back, but the Jets outbid them and reached an agreement while many on the East Coast were sleeping.
Mosley, taken 17th in the 2014 draft, one spot before the Jets selected Calvin Pryor, has been an impact player. Mosley made four Pro Bowls in five years, and was the leading tackler on the league’s No.1 defense last season. He recorded 105 tackles, the fourth time he broke 100 in a season. He has made 595 career tackles to go along with nine interceptions, 8.5 sacks and six forced fumbles.
The Jets will be looking for another linebacker or edge rusher, positions in which they planned to use Barr. They’re bringing back end Henry Anderson, whose seven sacks last year tied Jordan Jenkins for the team lead. Anderson came to terms on a three-year deal worth $25 million. Other options for an edge rusher include Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston or Lions defensive end Ezekial Ansah.
The Jets also could bolster their pass rush in the draft. With the No. 3 pick they might be in position to take Ohio State’s Nick Bosa, Kentucky’s Josh Allen or Alabama’s Quinnen Williams.
Mosley is expected to play inside with Avery Williamson, the Jets’ leading tackler last season. Mosley’s arrival could mean Darron Lee’s days as a Jet are numbered. A first-round pick in 2016, Lee never lived up to expectations and finished the season serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s drug policy. The Jets could look to trade Lee.
The Jets also need to address the secondary. They may not re-sign starting cornerback Morris Claiborne and are losing cornerback Buster Skrine, who has a deal with the Bears.