Anthony Barr has made the Pro Bowl in each of the past four seasons and has been a stalwart on the Vikings’ defense since Minnesota drafted him with the 9th overall pick of the 2014 draft, but it appears the two sides are headed for a parting of the ways. Per Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune, there is no indication that Barr and the Vikings have recently engaged in contract talks, and given the cost of the franchise tag for linebackers ($15.9MM), Minnesota is highly unlikely to tag him.
As such, Barr is set to hit the open market, and he will surely get paid handsomely. He was a 3-4 outside linebacker at UCLA –racking up 23.5 sacks in his last two years with the Bruins — and though he converted to a 4-3 ‘backer when he came to the Vikings, his pass rushing abilities have not left him. As Krammer observes, Barr has twice been rated Pro Football Focus’ most efficient blitzing linebacker, including the 2018 season, though he has been one of the league’s top 10 most frequent blitzers just once in his first five years in the league.
He could therefore hold significant appeal to a number of clubs. He has proven himself as a quality 4-3 stack linebacker, but his pedigree and upside as a pass rusher will make him almost universally attractive. His sack numbers are not eye-catching, but that is a function not only of the position he plays, but the discipline with which head coach Mike Zimmer‘s unit operates. Barr said, “If you watch a lot of teams — the Panthers, Miami, Oakland, Cincinnati — a lot of linebackers are going under blocks and not playing their gaps. Either they get gashed or they make a big splash play. We play sound across the board. I think it also hurts stat numbers because we’re going to hold our gap and force the ball to go elsewhere.”
The Vikings’ defense fared well when Barr was sidelined for several games last season, and with much of their veteran defensive core already under contract for the long-term, it seems unlikely they will bring Barr back unless they get him on a team-friendly deal. Though they approached Barr about an extension last summer, it does not appear they ever came close to an agreement. Per Krammer, Barr said that Minnesota’s offers were not what he expected.
He should have more luck when free agency opens on March 13.
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