Saturday, March 14, 2009
Barton fifth Jet to land in Cleveland
By Len Pasquarelli
Two weeks into free agency, it's obvious new Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini is determined to bolster the Browns' roster by raiding his former team.
For the fifth time, Mangini has signed a former Jets player, this time agreeing to terms with inside linebacker Eric Barton, who played the past five seasons in New York, including three years with Mangini as coach.
Barton joins defensive lineman C.J. Mosley, linebacker David Bowens, and cornerback Hank Poteat as unrestricted free agents who have moved from the Jets to the Browns the past two weeks. In addition, the Browns on Thursday night signed former New York defensive back Abram Elam to a restricted free agent offer sheet. Jets officials are still deliberating whether to match the offer, so Elam's future remains in limbo.
A 10-year veteran, Barton has split his time between the Jets (2004-2008) and the Oakland Raiders (1999-2003), the team that brought him into the NFL as a fifth-round draft choice in 1999.
The former Maryland star has appeared in 136 games and started 100 of them. He has 716 tackles, 20 sacks, 4 interceptions, and 18 passes defensed. Barton has five seasons of 100-plus tackles. His best season was in 2002, when he rang up a career-best 132 tackles.
In 2008, Barton started every game in New York, and had 119 tackles and 1½ sacks. He was a starter in 47 of the last 48 games for the Jets. It is expected that Barton will replace the departed Andra Davis, an effective run-stuffer, who left for Denver as an unrestricted free agent.
Meanwhile, Mangini's successor in New York, Rex Ryan, is intent on following the example set by his Jets predecessor, adding former Baltimore Ravens to his roster.
In New York, Ryan signed his third former Ravens veteran as an unrestricted free agent, adding defensive end Marques Douglas. He joins linebacker Bart Scott and safety Jim Leonhard as veterans who played for Ryan when he was defensive coordinator for the Ravens, and who have followed him to New York.
Last season, Douglas had 36 tackles as a key backup for the Ravens.
Douglas, a former Howard University star and 10-year veteran, entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Ravens in 1999. He has played three separate stints in Baltimore (1999, 2001-2004, and 2008). Douglas also has played with New Orleans (2000) and San Francisco (2005-2007).
Douglas has started in 79 of 104 appearances in the league, and has played in all 16 games each of the past six seasons. For his career, Douglas has 371 tackles and 19 sacks. His best season was in 2007, when he had 71 tackles for the 49ers.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.