Anthony Barr

Injury Updates: Ansah, Lions, Sherman, 49ers, Michel, Patriots, Barr, Vikings

Ezekiel Ansah has missed almost the entire season with a mysterious shoulder injury. He played in the Lions’ opener against the Jets, and notched four tackles and a sack, but hasn’t played since. Detroit has been mum on what exactly is ailing Ansah, and he’s appeared close to returning a few times recently but has never suited up. He’s practice on a limited basis the past couple of weeks, but still hasn’t been ready.

This week might be different, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweets that Ansah “did more in practice Friday than I’ve seen him in recent weeks.” It seems like Ansah is ramping up his activity and has a very good chance to return tomorrow against the Seahawks. Ansah, who’s playing on a franchise tag, would provide a big boost to a suddenly resurgent Lions defense.

Here’s more on some big injuries from around the league:

  • Richard Sherman appears on track to return for the 49ers tomorrow against the Cardinals after a two game absence, but might have to miss Week 9 because of it. Sherman told Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle that he’s going to attempt to play through the injury, but might be too sore to play on short-rest in Week 9. The 49ers play on Thursday Night Football, and it doesn’t sound like Sherman thinks he’ll be able to play two games in four days.
  • The Patriots have been typically tight-lipped about Sony Michel‘s injury, but the recent word is that it isn’t too serious. That being said, Michel has been downgraded to doubtful for the team’s Monday night game against the Bills, according to Jeff Howe of The Athletic (Twitter link). If it’s true that it’s relatively minor, Michel should be able to return in Week 9.
  • The Vikings’ defense has already been pretty banged up, and they got even more bad news recently. Linebacker Anthony Barr has been ruled out, which will end his streak of 44 consecutive games started for the Vikings, according to Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The Vikings will be considerably short-handed for their game against the Saints, and Barr’s absence will surely be felt over the middle.

Anthony Barr Wants To Stay With Vikings

Anthony Barr continues to wait on an extension after watching several teammates sign lucrative new deals, but that hasn’t changed his view of the organization. Barr says he “absolutely” wants to stay with the Vikings long term, as Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press writes. 

Barr will earn $12.3MM this season, per the terms of his fifth-year option. After that, the Vikings could theoretically retain him via the franchise tag, but the $16MM+ cost for linebackers would likely be prohibitive. Therefore, it will take a fresh deal in order for Barr to stay with the Vikings. A player in Barr’s position might wonder whether he’s being fairly valued since he doesn’t have that contract already, but the delay hasn’t caused any animosity.

The Vikings say they have no plans to trade Barr, but the status of their negotiations are unclear. The Vikings began talks with Barr this summer, but it’s anyone’s guess as to whether a deal will come together between now and the end of the season.

Barr, a 2014 first-round pick, had a career-high 75 tackles last year to go along with one sack and six passes defended.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Won’t Trade Anthony Barr

Apparently, there were rumors of the Vikings shopping linebacker Anthony Barr. It’s not a rumor that I’ve heard, but it did make its way back to Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. On Friday morning, Zimmer shot down such speculation, saying that Barr is “unequivocally not being traded,” (Twitter link via Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune). 

It’s possible that speculation was fueled by Barr’s absence from practice earlier this week. Zimmer explained that Barr was sidelined because of a “tweak” and added that he should be out on the field on Friday.

Through some savvy cap maneuvering, the Vikings have locked up the overwhelming majority of their core players. After inking wide receiver Stefon Diggs to a monster extension this week, Barr stands as the last key player to go.

In theory, the Vikings could retain Barr for 2019 by using the franchise tag, but on- and off-ball ‘backers are classified together, so a Barr tag would cost the Vikings more than $16MM. That’s an exorbitant amount of money to pay for an LB who had just one sack last year, so the Vikings will either have to work out a new contract with him or allow him to leave via free agency.

We’re trying to get him signed. Hopefully, we can. But that’s between upstairs and his people,” Zimmer said (Twitter link via Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press). “So we’d love to have him here. … I want him to get the best deal he can possibly get but in a selfish way I want him to be here too.’’

Despite all of their spending, the Vikings believe they have enough left in the coffers to lock up Barr. And, as a result, they will not trade him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Approach Anthony Barr, Stefon Diggs About Extensions

Now that Eric Kendricks and Danielle Hunter have signed their extensions, the Vikings’ defensive fortification efforts are nearly complete. They now have Harrison Smith, Linval Joseph, Everson Griffen, Xavier Rhodes, Kendricks and Hunter under contract long-term. Barr represents the final piece for this current veteran core.

Stefon Diggs is the other key Viking whose contract is up after 2018, and Minnesota brass has been talking with both Barr and Diggs about extensions. Representatives for both Barr and Diggs have been contacted by the Vikings for extension talks, Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

These conversations began in June, per Krammer. This would continue the summer-extension blueprint Rick Spielman‘s utilized the past three years. Griffen, Rhodes and Joseph all agreed to deals within a 10-day span around the start of the Vikings’ previous training camp, and Smith and Hunter re-upped with Minnesota in June of 2016 and ’18, respectively. Kendricks agreed to his extension this April.

Barr said recently scant progress had been made on his extension, but the Vikings are in the final stages of this years-long plan — one that saw Spielman authorize re-ups for Joseph and Griffen in 2017 despite the duo having multiple seasons remaining on their old contracts. Finalizing deals for Diggs and Barr would represent a significant victory for Minnesota’s front office, but they won’t be as easy now that a fully guaranteed $28MM-AAV deal for Kirk Cousins is on the books through 2020. The Vikings possess approximately $14MM in cap space.

PFR recently looked at the extension cases for both Barr and Diggs, and CBS Sports’ Joel Corry believes the Vikings would let these starters reach the open market rather than using the franchise tag. Due to on- and off-ball ‘backers being classified together, a Barr tag would cost the Vikes more than $16MM. Diggs, who is set to make $1.96MM this season, would see a $17MM-plus tag if the Vikings took that course of action next March. So, the next few weeks will be critical for the Vikings.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Vikings, Diggs, Rams, Joyner

Here’s a look at the NFC:

  • There’s a good chance that Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr and wide receiver Stefon Diggs will hit the open market in 2019 if they don’t sign contract extensions, Joel Corry of CBSSports.com (on Twitter) opines. Corry estimates that the linebacker and wide receiver franchise tags will be $16.325MM and $17MM, respectively, and that may be too pricey for Minnesota’s liking. On Wednesday, we evaluated Barr as an extension candidate.
  • Kirk Cousins‘ open-minded approach to the franchise tag should serve as inspiration to this year’s franchise tagged players, Albert Breer of The MMQB argues. That includes Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner, who is set to make $11.287MM this year and would call for a $13.544MM salary if tagged again next year. By standing pat, Joyner would receive either $11.287MM this year and a trip to free agency in March, or nearly $25MM across two seasons before hitting the open market in 2020. That could give Joyner the confidence he needs to stand his ground in extension talks, though this year’s disappointing free agent market for safeties could also steer him towards taking a deal.
  • Eagles running back Matt Jones knows that he needs to get it together if he wants to stick in the NFL. “It could be [my last chance],” Jones said (via Tom Moore of The Morning Call). “That don’t scare me at all. I got my eyes on the prize. I’m here and I’m ready to work.” Jones inked a two-year, $1.5MM deal with the Eagles this offseason, but the contract contains zero guarantees.

Extension Candidate: Anthony Barr

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Barr, Seahawks, Hardy, Freeman

After Anthony Barr ended his short-lived absence from the Vikings‘ offseason program and reported to the team, all appeared to be well in Minnesota. Beat reporters suggested there had been good talks between Barr and the Vikings and that a deal could get done soon. But now there appears to be more tension, and judging by Barr’s recent statements, a deal doesn’t seem to be on the horizon.

Barr, who is heading into the final year of his rookie deal, recently sat down for an interview with Nick Shook of NFL.com. The 2014 first-rounder deflected when asked about his contract and implied there had been little progress. About his deal, he said “it’s more about feeling valued and respected than the actual dollar amount” and added 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 put the ball firmly in the Vikings’ court, and made it seem like the Vikings hadn’t made him an offer yet.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Seahawks could make a selection in the upcoming Supplemental Draft, speculates Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. Condotta thinks Adonis Alexander “may be the most ‘Seahawky'” of the players available due to his arms being over the team’s required 32 inches in length. Alexander reportedly could go as high as the third round.
  • In a recent profile by Robert Klemko of SI.com, former Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy revealed he took two visits to NFL teams after the Cowboys opted not to re-sign him, but his potential signing was ultimately shot down by the owners each time. Hardy had been accused of domestic violence and is currently pursuing a career in UFC.
  • The Broncos released veteran running back C.J. Anderson this offseason, and now appear ready to let rookie Royce Freeman be the leader of their ground game, according to Troy Renck of Denver 7. Renck said about Freeman, the third round pick out of Oregon, “I believe the kid starts in September.” If Freeman starts right away it could make returning young backs Devontae Booker and De’Angelo Henderson expendable.

Vikings Rumors: DeFilippo, O-Line, Barr

John DeFilippo played a big part in the Vikings‘ quarterback search. The new Minnesota offensive coordinator began studying film of the team’s three previous quarterbacks — Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater and Case Keenum — on his first morning with the team in mid-February, Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes. This process of finding a potential long-term option in Kirk Cousins also included scouting of QBs that weren’t Cousins or the Vikings’ free agent trio, per Goessling, who adds QBs coach Kevin Stefanski was also involved in this process, along with Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer. DeFilippo and Cousins met at dinner the night before the new Minnesota starter signed his three-year, $84MM contract, per Goessling. Minnesota has not had a quarterback make it through three straight seasons as the primary starter since Daunte Culpepper in the early 2000s, and DeFilippo called the franchise’s signal-caller search as thorough as anything he’s been involved with in the NFL.

Here’s the latest from the Twin Cities:

  • Previously stationed at right tackle at Vikings OTAs, Mike Remmers took reps exclusively at right guard during one of the OTA sessions this week, Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune reports. Third-year UDFA Rashod Hill, in turn, lined up at right tackle. This was the Vikings’ arrangement at the end of last season. Remmers worked as the Panthers’ starting right tackle from 2014-16. Tom Compton, who worked as the primary right guard last week, alternated at left guard with Danny Isidora, per Krammer. Slotting Remmers at guard would give second-round pick Brian O’Neill an easier path to playing time, but it’s uncertain what Remmers’ primary position will be this season.
  • Anthony Barr reported to the Vikings this week and did so after taking out an insurance policy, Krammer notes. He missed the first week of Vikes OTAs while he ironed out this policy, which will cover him for injury while he’s still attached to his rookie deal. Barr remains hopeful he and the Vikings can come to terms before training camp. Minnesota agreed to extensions with Everson Griffen, Xavier Rhodes and Linval Joseph in a 10-day span just as camp began last year, and it would make sense Barr — one of the team’s big re-up candidates this year — would be the top priority for a pre-camp deal.
  • Despite being a first-round pick, Laquon Treadwell has 21 receptions (and no touchdowns) in two years. However, the Ole Miss product is not categorizing 2018 as a make-or-break year, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press notes. The Vikings cut Jarius Wright and have not re-signed Michael Floyd, potentially giving Treadwell a chance to move into the No. 3 wideout role. However, Minnesota’s Kendall Wright deal could impede that. Neverthless, it could be a stretch the Vikings pick up Treadwell’s fifth-year option in May of 2019 at this rate.

North Notes: Steelers, Packers, Vikings

When the Packers signed Byron Bell earlier today, most assumed it was for a reserve, depth role. But now Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press Gazette writes that Bell may end up starting for the Packers. Wood notes that there is concern in the organization about longtime right tackle Bryan Bulaga‘s recovery from his ACL tear.

Bulaga, the Packers’ first-round pick back in 2010, tore his left ACL in week nine of last season. According to Wood, Bulaga is unlikely to be ready for week one, and there’s no real timetable for when he might be ready. Wood thinks placing Bulaga on the PUP list and holding him out at least the first six weeks of the season is a real possibility.

The good news for the Packers is that Bell has plenty of starting experience. He’s started 74 games since entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2011. There was some talk earlier this offseason that the team could move on from Bulaga after he refused to take a pay cut, but the Packers seem committed to his return for now.

Here’s more from around the league’s northern divisions:

  • It’s yet to be officially diagnosed by team doctors, but Steelers tight end Jake McGee appears to have suffered a torn Achilles in practice, according to Mike Garafalo of NFL Network (Twitter link). McGee spent last year on the practice squad but Garafalo notes that some thought he could make the 53-man roster this year. If it is confirmed to be a torn Achilles, his season will be over.
  • The Steelers suffered another injury during Wednesday’s workout when backup offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins went down with a torn quad (Twitter link via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN). Fowler notes that Hawkins could go on injured reserve, but if he follows the normal timeline for a torn quad, he could be back in time for the regular season.
  • It was reported yesterday that Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr had reported to OTAs after skipping the first few sessions. Now, Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune says that he “wouldn’t be surprised if there were some candid talks in the last week” and adds that the Vikings have a “long and productive” relationship with Barr’s agent (Twitter link). It’s nothing concrete, but it’s another sign that Barr and the Vikings could be inching closer to working something out.

Anthony Barr Reports To Vikings

Anthony Barr ended his short-lived holdout and reported to the Vikings’ offseason team activities on Tuesday, notes Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune (Twitter link). Goessling had previously reported that Barr was a no-show for the first portion of OTAs. At the time, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer declined to share whether Barr’s absence was related to his contract, but did say Barr told him in advance that he wasn’t going to be there.

Barr, 26, is headed into the final year of his contract and will be earning $12MM this season after the Vikings picked up the fifth-year option on their former first-round pick. Barr became a star nearly instantly upon entering the league, and has made three straight Pro Bowls. The Vikings have a number of key players entering the final year of their deals, and definitely don’t want any headaches from one of their vital cogs.

Barr said back in January that he wanted a long-term extension with the Vikings, but the team has been reluctant to give him one. Since Barr isn’t a great pass rusher for an outside linebacker (he has just 10.5 sacks through four seasons) some have speculated the Vikings may just let him walk after this season.

After giving Kirk Cousins the first ever three-year fully guaranteed contract back in March, the Vikings don’t have a ton of disposable cap money. It’s entirely possible they decide to use their resources elsewhere and not retain Barr. If that’s the case, it makes sense why Barr was in no rush to report to the team. Either way, he’s back now, and the Vikings are surely glad to have one less distraction to deal with.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.