Anthony Barr Is Still Available; Should Minnesota Bring Him Back?

Nov 7, 2021; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Camryn Bynum (43) celebrates with outside linebacker Anthony Barr (55) after intercepting Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (not pictured) during the first half at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Answering that question largely comes down to the finances. Plus, Anthony Barr would be a somewhat unusual fit in his former role. Coming back would require him to either be a middle linebacker (less likely) or an OLB who is primarily rushing the passer (more likely).

Last year, Barr adjusted his deal so he could return to the Vikings. The cost for 2021 cap flexibility was less 2022 cap flexibility. He leaves the Vikings with a $9.9 million cap charge even though he’s no longer on the team. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s top 3 defensive contracts are Eric Kendricks, Danielle Hunter, and then Barr:

Recently, Sheil Kapadia did a brief roundup for the best remaining free agents. Barr finds himself on this list, and his appeal – at least to Kapadia’s mind – rests in his ability to do different things:

Durability is a concern with Barr as he’s played in just 13 games over the past two seasons. But when he’s on the field, Barr has still been effective (72 tackles, three interceptions, 2.5 sacks last season). Barr will interest teams looking for a short-term fix at linebacker who can do a little bit of everything.

Mike Zimmer certainly used him a manner that fits Kapadia’s assessment. A future team may look at him as more of a pass rush specialist, though.

Vikings fans, by and large, hoped that Anthony Barr would have had an impact similar to Micah Parsons. Technically a middle linebacker, Parsons was commonly put along the edge so he could create pass rush havoc. His 93.0 pass rush score is elite. He accumulated 13 sacks, forced 3 fumbles, and was a first-team All Pro. He accomplished all of this as a rookie.

Barr will never offer that kind of production, but it’s worth remembering that he did a nice job of rushing the passer in his rookie and sophomore seasons. In fact, he finished as the 3rd-best linebacker in the PFF rankings during his sophomore season, largely due to a 90.8 pass rush grade. We need to temper these rosy memories with the reality that he has never had more than 4 sacks in a season, so his production wasn’t anywhere close to what Parsons did. Even still, he did do a nice job, and Vikings fans were always left wondering if he’d do better in a different role.

Not too long ago, KAM suggested that the team is likely moving on from Barr, mostly due to insufficient cap room: “I had a conversation with him the other day. That’s going to be a tougher situation to navigate. Never say never. Those decisions are tough, but ultimately sometimes they have to be made.” One wonders if Barr’s asking price will decrease the longer he stays on the open market. How low would it need to go for Minnesota to be interested? It’d almost certainly need to dip below $5 million, and perhaps even drop to around the $3ish range.

The Vikings, in all likelihood, will only be adding depth options until after the draft. After seeing who they get and don’t get, Minnesota may turn to adding another player or two. Keep an eye on Anthony Barr if the team misses on some front-seven talent in the draft.