Anthony Barr

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.’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 (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 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 (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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Injury Updates: Big Ben, Lewis, Hankins, Cole

Here’s a look at some more injury news from today’s games:

  • Bills running back LeSean McCoy injured his shoulder in the victory over the Dolphins today, and will probably have an MRI in advance of Thursday’s game against the Jets, writes Adam Schefter of ESPN (via Twitter).
  • Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr was spotted wearing a cast on his arm following the overtime win over St. Louis, writes Jason Gonzalez of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The team staff helped him carry his bag while exiting the locker room.
  • Adam Schefter adds to the reports about Lewis’ injury, noting that the Patriots running back has no swelling, which is a good sign. However his ACL is loose, which is a bad sign. Ultimately, they are still waiting on the MRI (via Twitter).

Earlier Updates:

  • The Patriots are awaiting the results of an MRI on running back Dion Lewis, but the club is hopeful that he only suffered an MCL sprain, tweets Jason La Canfora of Regardless, Lewis figures to miss some time, prompting New England to turn to LeGarrette Blount as the team’s primary back.
  • Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger left today’s game against the Raiders with a foot injury, and was eventually taken to a hospital for further evaluation, per Pittsburgh’s PR staff (Twitter link). Roethlisberger was unable to put any weight on his left foot, and head coach Mike Tomlin told reporters, including Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports (Twitter link), that the veteran QB will undergo an MRI. Roethlisberger, of course, just returned to action after missing several weeks with an MCL sprain.
  • Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins suffered a torn pectoral during today’s game against the Buccaneers, the team announced on Twitter. While there has been no official announcement, such an injury is expected to be season-ending.
  • Vikings backup linebacker Audie Cole fractured his ankle today, head coach Mike Zimmer told reporters, including Ben Goessling of (Twitter link). Per Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (Twitter link), Zimmer confirmed that Cole will miss the remainder of the season. Cole hasn’t been a factor on the Vikings’ defense, but he was playing more than half of the club’s special teams snaps.

Vikings Notes: Peterson, Zimmer, Barr, Crichton

Barring an unexpected move, star running back Adrian Peterson will be playing for the Vikings in 2015. His wife, Ashley, told’s Tania Ganguli that she’s happy her husband is back with Minnesota, but that she would have preferred to move closer to her home in Oklahoma.

“I am happy that he’ll be going back,” she said. “They have supported us. I just would personally, for me, I would’ve preferred to be closer to home. That’s just a personal preference for me. The Vikings have been supportive of him and the fans have been pretty supportive, so we’re happy to be going back.”

When asked if her opinion has anything to do with how the organization treated her husband, Ashley gave a vague response:

“Well, the thing is, kind of, but you never know how that would’ve played out with anyone else. Just kind of have to go with the flow on that. I personally would’ve preferred to be closer to my family. I’m having a baby and all that.”

Let’s check out some other notes from the North Star State…

  • Head coach Mike Zimmer doesn’t have a particular “style” or “scheme,” but Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune writes that the outlook is refreshing. Previous Vikings coaches have ultimately been unsuccessful with their particular philosophies, but Zimmer’s “fly by the seat of my pants” attitude is exactly what the organization needs. “I just try to be myself,” he said. “My only strategy was that, especially around the defense, I wanted to show them that in the meeting rooms and by the way I’m teaching them with the tape and with techniques, that they can believe that I can coach.”
  • Linebacker Anthony Barr has been present for the team’s OTAs, but a knee injury has prevented the former first-rounder from participating. While the second-year player had arthroscopic knee surgery following last season,’s Brian Hall writes that Barr is currently struggling with a separate injury. “He’s got another injury, but I really don’t want to talk about it,” Zimmer said. “He’s going to be fine.”
  • Defensive end Scott Crichton struggled during his rookie campaign as he adjusted to the Vikings’ system.’s Ben Goessling says the second-year player has surprised during OTAs, and his head coach has also noticed the improvement. “He’s not thinking so much,” Zimmer said. “He’s more attacking and then playing football as opposed to thinking and then playing football. In a lot of those ways he’s improved a lot. We’ve moved him inside some and he’s flashed a little bit in there, but again, I’m being cautious with my evaluations.”

Vikings Place Anthony Barr On IR

As expected, the Vikings have placed rookie outside linebacker Anthony Barr on injured reserve, tweets ESPN’s Adam Caplan. To take his spot on the roster, the team has promoted linebacker Josh Kaddu from the practice squad. This news comes about a week after we learned that the team was anticipating Barr missing the rest of the season with a knee injury.

The ninth-overall pick in this past year’s draft, Barr has been one of the most productive defensive rookies this season. The linebacker currently has the fifth-highest rating on Pro Football Focus (subscription required) among rookie defenders (following Khalil Mack, Aaron Donald, Chris Borland and C.J. Mosley), and he leads all Vikings linebackers in snaps played. He’s compiled 70 tackles, four sacks and a pair of forced fumbles in 12 starts this season.

Kaddu was a fifth-round pick by the Dolphins in 2012, but he only made five appearances with Miami during his two-year tenure. He briefly spent time with the Eagles earlier this year before signing with Minnesota in September.

Barr gave Kaddu his vote of approval (via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Twitter):

“I think he has a great opportunity to help us out this weekend. … I think he’ll do well if he does.’’

NFC North Notes: Cutler, Austin, Barr

As the Packers and Lions continue to vie for the NFC North crown, while the Vikings and Bears battle to stay out of the cellar, let’s check in on the latest Friday notes from around the division….

  • While Bears head coach Marc Trestman indicated on Thursday that he wanted his team to “hear from me first” when he benched Jay Cutler, only a few players actually did, with many learning of the change via social media. As Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes, that rubbed a few Bears players the wrong way.
  • Taking Cutler’s enormous contract and cap numbers into account, trading him won’t be easy. In a piece for the National Football Post, former agent Joel Corry explores how the Bears could attempt to complete a deal involving the veteran quarterback.
  • Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin will be a top candidate for head coaching jobs this offseason, as Michael Rothstein of details. For now though, Austin is still focused on the Lions’ playoff hopes. “It’s flattering,” Austin said. “But that’s all it is right now.”
  • Vikings first-round pick Anthony Barr will miss the final two games with a season ending knee injury, reports Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald (via Twitter). Barr has undergone knee surgery to repair a slight meniscus tear, according to Marc Sessler of The rookie linebacker is expected to be ready for offseason activities.

Rob DiRe contributed to this post.

NFC Notes: Saints, Carr, Barr, Hyde

Writing about the Saints,’s Jason Fitzgerald says, “On one end of the spectrum they do a pretty poor job with planning for tomorrow due to restructures, void years, etc… but on the other end of the spectrum they also find these really good bargains on players.” Fitzgerald references Marques Colston, Zach Strief and Junior Galette chief among those bargains, deeming Galette the team’s best contract. On the flip side of the coin, however, is Curtis Lofton. Fitzgerald says the veteran linebacker’s guaranteed money is out of whack, and his deal is “littered” with prohibitive roster bonuses and a potentially costly voidable year.

Read on for several more NFC news and notes:

  • Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr hasn’t joined the Cowboys for training camp yet because he’s been with his cancer-stricken mother, who passed away on Wednesday.
  • Another player who has been sidelined for training camp is 49ers tight end Garrett Celek. He missed four games last season because of a hamstring injury, and is dealing with a back injury right now. Division III product Derek Carrier stands to benefit, writes’s Eric Branch, as Carrier and Celek are the contenders for the third tight end job behind Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman believes in Carrier’s ability: “He’s got a chance to be a productive player in this league. There’s no doubt. Derek’s got a nice feel for the passing game, he’s got good hands, and he can cover some ground now – he can really run. I don’t like to put timetables on people, but this a big year for him. He’s got a hell of an opportunity this year to really take a big step.”
  • Meanwhile, 49ers coaches are raving about the mental prowess of rookie runner Carlos Hyde, going so far as to call him savant-like, writes Matt Barrows in the Sacramento Bee.
  • Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer says there is a “strong” chance first-rounder Anthony Barr could start the season opener, reports Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune.
  • Bears rookie linebacker Christian Jones was one of the highest-profile undrafted free agents because he was key member of the national champion Florida State Seminoles, because he’s an impressive athlete who garnered second-round grades from draft evaluators and because he failed a drug test at the Combine. Not surprisingly, he’s made early waves in training camp for the linebacker-needy Bears, writes ESPN’s Michael C. Wright, who says it would be a surprise if Jones didn’t make the team: “The question now is whether Jones can maintain the momentum. Through the first seven practices, Jones appears to be one of the most athletic linebackers on the team, and probably the only true strongside linebacker at the position.”
  • ESPN’s Pat Yasinkas checks in on a handful of Buccaneers position battles, including the worrisome guard spots: “This one remains wide open. Jamon Meredith, Oniel Cousins, Patrick Omameh and Kadeem Edwards have been taking turns working with the first team and it doesn’t look like anyone has pulled ahead of the pack yet.”