The extreme Jets makeover began in earnest on Monday, the first day teams were permitted to negotiate with the representatives for free agents.
The Jets wasted no time adding a key player on both sides of the ball. The biggest addition so far is linebacker Anthony Barr, who spent his first five seasons with the Vikings. The Jets intend to sign Barr, according to a source, Wednesday when free agency officially opens and players are permitted to sign.
Barr has been to the Pro Bowl in each of the last four years. Contract terms were not immediately available, but the Jets outbid the Vikings for him and he was expected to land a deal in the range of $13 million to $14 million per year.
Barr, who turns 27 next week, was used primarily as an off-the-ball linebacker in Minnesota, but the Jets want him to rush the passer more. He has just 13.5 sacks in the NFL, but he rarely rushed the passer. At UCLA, he was a 3-4 outside linebacker and had 23.5 sacks.
The Jets also added a new weapon on offense for quarterback Sam Darnold.
The team agreed to a deal with free-agent slot receiver Jamison Crowder on Monday, according to a source. The deal is for three years, $28.5 million with $17 million guaranteed at signing.
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Crowder, who turns 26 in June, was limited to nine games in 2018 for the Redskins due to an ankle injury. He finished the year with 29 catches for 388 yards and two touchdowns. In 2016-17, when he played a combined 31 games, he had 133 catches for 1,636 yards and 10 touchdowns and clicked with then-quarterback Kirk Cousins.
The 2015 fourth-round pick will give Adam Gase a weapon at slot receiver, something the new Jets coach values. He had it with Jarvis Landry and Danny Amendola during his time as Dolphins coach and Wes Welker when he was the offensive coordinator of the Broncos. The 5-foot-9 177-pounder is a prototypical slot receiver.
The Jets feel Crowder is a perfect fit for Gase’s offense with the ability to get open against nickel cornerbacks and linebackers and get good yards after the catch. The Jets like his quickness and ability to run routes both underneath and down the field.
The Jets needed a boost after last year’s receiving corps underwhelmed. Robby Anderson led the receivers with 50 catches for 752 yards and six touchdowns in 14 games. The only other receiver to record more than one touchdown was Terrelle Pryor, who was cut after just six games.
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The Jets receiving corps now consists of Crowder, Anderson and Quincy Enunwa. They are not expected to re-sign Jermaine Kearse, who is scheduled to hit free agency.
With the deal for Barr, the Jets gave new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams a toy to play with. The Jets see Barr as a versatile player who can fill several roles. Right now, the Jets are not focusing on fitting players to their scheme. Instead, they are trying to bring in good players and fit the scheme to them.
The Jets have been searching for pass-rushing help and still could add a pass rusher in the draft, but Barr will give them a boost if he can recapture his college form as a rusher.
The Jets also intend to sign Bears free-agent wide receiver/special teamer Josh Bellamy on Wednesday, according to a source. Bellamy had 14 catches for 117 yards and one touchdown last year for Chicago. His primary role was on coverage teams, though, and that will be the case with the Jets as well. The deal is for two years and will pay Bellamy a maximum of $7 million with $2.75 million guaranteed at signing.