The Vikings gave Barr a five-year deal worth $67.5MM, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, with $33MM of this pact being guaranteed. Incentives can raise Barr’s earnings to $77MM.
This is pretty shocking news, as the contract with New York was reported as having been a done deal last night. His deal with the Jets was reportedly going to pay Barr over $14MM annually, so it sounds like he took slightly less to stay in Minnesota.
Manish Mehta of The New York Daily News tweets that the Vikings sweetened their initial offer, which helped sway Barr to change his mind. Barr’s desire to remain in Minnesota helped make up for the slight disparity between the two proposals, Mehta adds (on Twitter).
As for the money Barr did receive, it will make him the second-highest-paid off-ball linebacker in the game. The Jets’ C.J. Mosley deal tops the list, by a considerable margin. Both of this week’s deals set a new high bar for what had been a stagnant market, with Jamie Collins‘ 2017 Browns deal being non-rush linebackers’ high-water mark for nearly two years — prior to Cleveland cutting Collins.
While it certainly caught the Jets by surprise, it might not end up being all that bad for New York. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets that the Jets have taken some of the money they were going to pay Barr, and used it to make “a last and final big offer to Le’Veon Bell.”
Rapoport writes that it’s now “decision time” for Bell, as the Jets appear to have made their final offer. The Jets have been saying for months they were going to be aggressive in free agency, and they’ve certainly delivered on that promise. The Jets have been the team most consistently linked to Bell, and they seem to be the frontrunner for his services as of now.
Barr has spent his entire five-year career with the Vikings, earning four Pro Bowl nods along the way, and had always maintained that he wanted to stay a Viking. The former first-rounder had another standout season in 2018, finishing with 55 tackles, three sacks, and one forced fumble. The Vikings ultimately decided to pass on franchising Barr, a move that would have cost $15.9MM.
This represents another major Vikings investment in their homegrown core, with Barr joining numerous defensive starters in being signed to long-term deals. This also figures to scratch a possible move to more of an edge-rushing role. The Jets were planning to incorporate more of Barr’s college-years edge work into their scheme, but with the Vikings, the five-year veteran has consistently worked as an off-ball linebacker. It appears he is comfortable in this role and will not be leaving the Twin Cities.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.