Anthony Barr

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.

NFC North Notes: Packers, Dez, Vikes, Barr

Although the Packers have been linked to a possible Dez Bryant addition, quarterback Aaron Rodgers doesn’t see a fit, as Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com writes. “Well, we like young receivers, so I’m assuming that’s the way they’re going to keep going,” Rodgers said. “I don’t know why you’d cut Jordy [Nelson] and bring in Dez, but he’s a talented player. He’s going to end up somewhere. If he ends up here, we’ll obviously welcome him with open arms and get him up to speed as quick as possible.” Green Bay drafted three wideouts to team with incumbents Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, and Geronimo Allison, so as Rodgers notes, there’s probably not room for a veteran like Bryant on the club’s roster. The Packers, despite having been loosely connected to Bryant since he was released by the Cowboys, are not currently pursuing the 29-year-old pass-catcher.

Here’s more from the NFC North:

  • Linebacker Anthony Barr was not present for the Vikings‘ organized team activities this week, according to Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Under the terms of his fifth-year option, Barr is fully guaranteed a base salary north of $12MM for the 2018 season, but he likely still doesn’t want to place himself in undue injury peril given that he doesn’t have a long-term contract in place. Barr’s fifth-year option doesn’t contain any sort of workout clauses, so he’s not costing himself money by not attending voluntary sessions. As Goessling tweets, Barr was present for a Mike Zimmer football camp at the Vikings’ facility over the weekend, suggesting there is no acrimony in talks with Minnesota.
  • New Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst attempted to hire Ravens scout Milt Hendrickson as his assistant GM earlier this year, but Baltimore and GM Ozzie Newsome denied the request, as Bob McGinn of BobMcGinnFootball.com reports (Twitter link). Hendrickson has been with the Ravens since 2006, writes Zach Kruse of PackersWire.com, who adds Hendrickson worked alongside Gutekunst at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Hendrickson still lives in La Crosse, per McGinn, and could join the Packers’ staff in 2019.
  • Former Buccaneers defensive line coach Jay Hayes will serve as a Packers defensive consultant through at least training camp, per Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter links). While Hayes’ assignment currently only lasts through training, it sound as though there may be an opportunity for Hayes to stick around further. Hayes, who was fired by Tampa Bay in Feburary, previously served on the Bengals’ coaching staff for 13 years.

Vikings Looking To Extend Barr, Diggs, Hunter

Despite spending heavily on Kirk Cousins this offseason, the Vikings are still intent on trying to keep their core of young players together. This includes Anthony Barr, Stefon Diggs and Danielle Hunter, who the team hopes to extend according to Chip Scoggins of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Though they hope to get the deals done, the Vikings know that will be a tough task. General manager Rick Spielman said, “We’re still going to try. Is it going to be easy? No.”

Diggs and Hunter are some of the best bargains in the business at the moment, both costing just $1.9MM against the cap in 2018. The Vikings picked up Barr’s fifth-year option in 2017 and he is set to cost $12.3MM in the upcoming season. All three deals are set to expire after the 2018 season.

Scoggins adds that Spielman and team executive vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski have been planning for this for three years, which led them to signing Everson Griffen and Linval Joseph to extensions despite them having additional years remaining.

Though it might be difficult to keep everyone around, if they are able to crunch the numbers they won’t have any pushback from ownership. Spielman said they have never heard “no” from the Wilfs on a potential deal.

It would be difficult to see the Vikings parting with Diggs, who just authored arguably the most famous play in team history when his touchdown grab vs. New Orleans as time expired sent Minnesota to the NFC Championship game.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Browns, Bengals, Barr, Bears

The latest of many updates regarding the Browns‘ preference for their No. 1 pick runs indicates John Dorsey may have an issue with Baker Mayfield‘s height. While it’s uncertain if the Heisman Trophy winner’s 6-foot frame will be a deal-breaker, Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports hears from a source close to the Browns the new Cleveland GM prefers size in quarterbacks (Twitter link). That and off-field baggage will work against Mayfield, who is slotted by most as a high first-round performer but someone who won’t likely be the Browns’ choice. Hue Jackson‘s on the same page about the size issueRobinson previously reported Dorsey, though, is a fan of Mayfield’s competitive streak and was zeroing in on he or USC’s Sam Darnold. ESPN.com’s Mel Kiper Jr. has Josh Allen going to the Browns at No. 1, and Josh Rosen is generally regarded as the readiest pro prospect. So, the Browns — who wanted Alex Smith to mentor their to-be-determined prospect — will have a complex decision to make.

Here’s the latest from the North divisions.

  • Now that the Browns missed out on another trade target, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer mentions Kirk Cousins will warrant consideration. The Browns were planning on signing or trading for a bridge quarterback while their No. 1 pick learns but now could be in the Cousins mix. However, Cleveland’s status after two historically woeful years could derail this. Cousins has said he’s going to value a winning situation, and the Browns are about the furthest thing away from being classified as such. It would seem odd a team that’s at this stage of the rebuilding process would consider Cousins rather than a rookie, but the Browns ($100MM-plus in space) have the money to enter the fray. Cabot notes the Browns will likely know if they’ll have a shot at Cousins before the tampering period begins, and if he’s not interested, they will move on to bridge-type veterans, mentioning Chase Daniel or a Josh McCown reunion as options.
  • Like everyone else in the stellar 2014 first-round class, Anthony Barr is still attached to his rookie contract. However, the Vikings outside linebacker wants to sign an extension, and Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press notes the team is expected to try to sign Barr by the time training camp opens. “I love it here,” Barr said, via Tomasson. “Absolutely. I really love my teammates. I really love this team. I love the city. I could see myself being here for the future.” Jamie Collins‘ $12.5MM-per-year pact paces 4-3 outside ‘backers presently, but Barr could poised to (sorry) raise the bar here. No other player in this role makes more per year than Telvin Smith‘s $11.1MM pact, so it’s a near-certainty Barr’s re-up will come in above that. The Vikings extended Xavier Rhodes, Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen in 2017. A Barr agreement would be logical to follow this offseason.
  • Former Lions center Dominic Raiola played the Bears on numerous occasions. Chicago will now dip into the family for coaching help, hiring younger brother Donovan Raiola to be its assistant offensive line coach, per Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Donovan Raiola worked under new Bears O-line boss Harry Hiestand at Notre Dame.
  • Clint Boling took some snaps at left tackle last season, and Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer notes the Bengals could consider that for the future — even if he’s merely the backup tackle. Boling has been the Bengals’ left guard for six seasons. At right guard, Cincinnati liked what it saw from its young options will likely turn to either Alex Redmond, a 2016 UDFA, or Christian Westerman, a 2016 fifth-rounder, in 2018, per Dehner.

NFC Notes: OBJ, Sherman, Barr, Freeman

Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. returned to practice Thursday and is likely to make his season debut this week, which should be a boon to an offense that looked lost on season-opening Sunday. However, OBJ won’t be at full strength for a little while longer. The ankle injury that has bothered him since mid-August comes with a six- to eight-week recovery timeline, he revealed to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com and other reporters Thursday. The Giants’ game against the Lions on Monday will mark exactly four weeks since Beckham suffered the injury, notes Raanan, meaning Big Blue might not see him at his best until the end of this month or sometime in October.

  • Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has missed two straight practices with a hamstring issue, perhaps jeopardizing his chances of playing against San Francisco on Sunday. Watching the game in street clothes would be a first for Sherman, a seventh-year man who has played in 97 straight contests since the Seahawks added him as a fifth-round pick in 2011. Defensive coordinator Kris Richard suggested Thursday that Sherman’s streak will continue, telling reporters (via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times) that he’s “not even considering” going without the corner because “it’s never happened here.”
  • Like Sherman, Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr has missed back-to-back practices with a hamstring injury. He’s now at risk of sitting out a game this week for the first time since December 2015, per The Associated Press. Barr played all 62 of the Vikings’ defensive snaps in their win over New Orleans on Monday. With or without the two-time Pro Bowler, the Vikings will face a difficult road test in Pittsburgh on Sunday.
  • Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman announced on Instagram on Thursday that he suffered a torn pectoral on the first play of their loss to the Falcons in Week 1, Adam Jahns of the Chicago Tribune relays (on Twitter). Remarkably, Freeman still played roughly 95 percent of the Bears’ defensive snaps and racked up 10 tackles in their 23-17 defeat. The Bears placed Freeman on injured reserve this week and will go without him until at least November.

Vikings, Xavier Rhodes Agree To Extension

The Vikings and cornerback Xavier Rhodes have agreed to terms on a five-year, $70MM extension, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). Rhodes was already slated to earn a little over $8MM this season under his fifth-year option, so in total, he is now under contract for six years (through 2022) and $78MM. As Schefter reports, the deal includes a whopping $41MM in guaranteed money, and also comes with a $12MM signing bonus, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Xavier Rhodes

This is not surprising news, as reports from multiple sources this morning indicated that the two sides expected to finalize a deal today, and we heard yesterday that a lucrative extension was imminent. Schefter adds (via Twitter) that Rhodes will receive $42MM over the first three years of the contract, and he now ranks as the league’s third-highest-paid corner in terms of average annual value (behind only Trumaine Johnson, who is playing out the 2017 season under the franchise tag, and Josh Norman).

Rhodes, whom the Vikings selected in the first round of the 2013 draft, turned in the best season of his career in 2016, which earned him his first Pro Bowl nod. Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics were fairly kind to his overall effort, as Rhodes graded out as the 29th-best corner in the league out of 111 qualified players, but PFF really loved his performance against the run, where he graded as the top CB in football. Whatever issues he had in coverage he helped to make up for with his five interceptions, one of which he returned 100 yards for a score.

Since he became a full-time starter in 2014, Rhodes has also been pretty durable. He started all 16 regular-season contests in 2014 and 2015, and after missing the first two weeks of 2016 with a knee injury, he started and finished the remaining 14 games.

As Rapoport tweets, Minnesota will pursue a long-term deal with linebacker Anthony Barr next offseason.

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Vikings, Xavier Rhodes Close On Extension

The Vikings are close to finalizing an extension with cornerback Xavier Rhodes, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

A source informed Tomasson the deal is expected to be in the five-year, $70MM vicinity. That would tie Rhodes to the Vikings through the 2022 season. The cornerback is set to make just more than $8MM on a fifth-year option this season.

We heard earlier this week the Vikings made a “nice offer” to the 27-year-old cornerback, who is entering his contract year. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reported the team is willing to make him one of the league’s highest-paid corners.

An assistant coach at Florida State during Rhodes’ time there and a former NFL corner, Terrell Buckley serves as a mentor to Rhodes. He told Tomasson there was a “high probability” Rhodes will sign an extension by the end of the week but is attempting to get a couple of things “squared away” with this Vikes proposal. Buckley added Rhodes “loves” playing for Mike Zimmer and secondary coach Jerry Gray, further pointing to a long Rhodes stay in Minneapolis.

At $14MM annually, that would match Rhodes with Richard Sherman and Patrick Peterson as the third-highest-paid corner. Only Josh Norman makes more than that annually, although Trumaine Johnson‘s franchise tag ($16.742MM) has him as the league’s highest-paid corner for 2017.

In addition to Rhodes, the Vikings want to lock down key members of their defense, Tomasson reports. They are internally discussing extensions for Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks and Linval Joseph, per Tomasson. The team just signed Everson Griffen to a $57.9MM extension.

The Vikings rode their defense to a dominant start in 2016, jumping out to a 5-0 mark. Minnesota finished third defensively last season. Barr became extension-eligible after last season, but Kendricks — as a 2015 second-round pick — isn’t yet allowed to sign one until after this season. Joseph has delivered dominant football to the Vikings after they signed him as a UFA from the Giants. He has two years remaining on the five-year, $31.25MM deal he signed in 2014. Joseph is set to make $6.85MM in each of the next two seasons.

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Vikings Pick Up Anthony Barr’s Option

The Vikings are exercising their fifth-year option on linebacker Anthony Barr, a source tells Tom Pelissero of USA Today (on Twitter). The move was expected, but we did not have confirmation of it until today. Anthony Barr (vertical)

In 2016, Barr started in every regular season game for the Vikings and totaled 70 tackles, two sacks, four passes defensed, and one fumble recovery. For the second straight season, he earned a Pro Bowl nomination for his work.

Interestingly, the advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus gave Barr a dreadful 43.1 overall score, despite him earning the fifth-highest pass rush mark of any qualified linebacker. This comes after being ranked in the top 30 amongst qualified linebackers as a rookie and earning a stellar 91.7 score in 2015.

Barr is now scheduled to earn $12.306MM is 2018, as shown in PFR’s Fifth-Year Option Tracker for 2014 first round picks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.