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Eric Barton Coming to Cleveland

This column has expressed mixed reactions to the off-season signings of the new regime. There were signings like that of linebacker CJ Mosley which we were not impressed with. There was the signing of "Pork Chop" Floyd Womack which we were very pleased to hear about. There were other signings that we are optimistic about but not to the point of falling out of our chair with excitement, for example, Robert Royal at tight-end acquired from the Bills as a free agent.

We would place the signing of Jets free agent linebacker Eric Barton in the Robert Royal category. On the positive side, he plays a position that we desperately need more depth in. He has ten years of experience in the NFL which has to bring some maturity and leadership that can help in the locker room and on the sideline. He has not bounced around the league but rather has played for just two teams - the Oakland Raiders who drafted him in the fifth round in 1999 and the New York Jets who picked him up as a free agent in 2004. That kind of consistency is important in shaping a player. He is a starter and not a career back-up that has been cut by several teams like a couple of the other signings recently. In fact, of the nearly 140 games that he has played in his career, Barton has started in more than 100 of them. And perhaps most impirtant, he is coming off a very good season with his second highest number of tackles in his career, 127, 16 starts, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and 4 defended passes. 2008 was a good year for Eric.

On the other hand, although he plays linebacker, not all linebackers have the same skill set. Pass rush is what we need more than anything else, and Barton is not known for his pass rush. He is a better tackler in the open field that a pass rusher. Further, he is going into his 11th pro season at an age when linebackers typically start to lose a step or two. Eric is 31 years old. Although he started all 16 regular season games for the Jets last year, we wonder whether his stamina will hold up this season. He is a hard worker, thus, training and workouts can improve his chances of staying fresh in 2009. We remain optimistic.

Go Browns!

-Clayton

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Devo's Cleveland Browns

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