Over the past two offseasons, the Vikings have signed a number of their defensive players to extensions: cornerback Xavier Rhodes, defensive end Everson Griffen, defensive tackle Linval Joseph, and (most recently) defensive end Danielle Hunter. That leaves linebacker Anthony Barr as the one defender who’s yet to sign a new deal.
Barr, a 2014 first-round pick, is heading into his fifth-year option season, and he’ll earn a $12.3MM base salary. Plenty of teams would line up to sign the three-time Pro Bowler should he hit free agency next year, especially if he has another season like he did in 2017. The 26-year-old finished the year having compiled a career-high 75 tackles to go along with one sack and six passes defended.
It sounds like the Vikings are going to now shift their focus to locking up Barr (and wideout Stefon Diggs), with general manager Rick Spielman indicating today that he wants to retain their entire core. While recent reports had hinted that contract negotiations were progressing, Barr didn’t sound as optimistic earlier this week. The linebacker said an extension was “more about feeling valued and respected than the actual dollar amount.” He also noted that while he wants “to be there long term… It’s not my decision; it’s on them, and I would like to get it.” Barr had already skipped out on non-mandatory workouts, perhaps showcasing his unhappiness with the situation.
While Barr is surely frustrated with the fact that his teammates have received lucrative extensions, he’s probably also aggravated at the team’s disappearing cap space. Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune estimates that the Vikings will have around $27MM in cap space in 2019. While that’s still enough space to sign Barr, they might have a tough time signing him if he’s looking to become one of the highest-paid linebackers. While it’s unlikely that he’ll receive a deal that’s more than the $12MM annual salary he’s set to earn this year, an $11MM annual salary would still place him in the top-5 among 4.3 outside linebackers. Considering the team’s cap constraints, this would likely be the most money they’d be willing to offer.
Fortunately for the Vikings, their defense will be fine with or without Barr. In fact, their decision to hold off on the linebacker’s extension could be an indication of his standing within the organization. While a deal is still expected to get done, it wouldn’t be overly surprising if Barr ends up hitting free agency next summer.
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