The Dallas Cowboys have “not closed” the door on adding a four-time Pro Bowl free agent.
As the Cowboys begin training camp, one of their weaker positions appear to be at linebacker. That would be because outside of reigning rookie of the year Micah Parsons and veteran Leighton Vander Esch, the Cowboys do not feature any established linebackers.
According to Clarence E. Hill Jr. of Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Stephen Jones hasn’t ruled out the idea of signing four-time Pro Bowl linebacker Anthony Barr. However, Dallas wants to take a look at their younger linebackers — such as second-year linebacker Jabril Cox — before making a final decision on Barr.
“And although they opened training camp without making a move on Barr, vice president Stephen Jones said the four-time Pro Bowler remains a viable option,” said Hill. “He said the team wanted to take a look at second-year linebacker Jabril Cox and other linebackers in training camp before making a final decision on Barr, who has played eight seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.”
Why the Cowboys Are Interested in Barr
Barr has been linked to the Cowboys for much of the offseason. As Daniel Flick and Mike Fisher of Sports Illustrated noted in their July 19 column, Barr is seen as a veteran who can contribute in the same way that Parsons does.
“Inside The Star, sources have long acknowledged to CowboysSI.com interest in Barr while thinking that Barr qualifies as a Micah helper, or even as “Micah Lite.’ Weak-side linebacker. Rush the passer. Drop into coverage. Veteran presence. So yes, the Cowboys are aware,” says Flick and Fisher.
The Cowboys’ depth at linebacker is less than assuring. Cox was limited to just seven games after suffering a torn ACL midway through his rookie season. Meanwhile, Vander Esch had appeared in just 19 of 32 games due to injuries during the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
As Hill notes, the Cowboys signed linebacker Malik Jefferson — and could sign Barr — to prepare for any possible injuries to Cox and Vander Esch.
“But given the injury histories of Cox and Vander Esch, who returned on a one-year deal, the Cowboys are looking at veteran insurance options,” says Hill. “They signed former Texas star Malik Jefferson, who has been with four teams since being picked in the third round by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2018. But the door is not closed on Barr, Jones said. With roughly $22 million in cap room available, the Cowboys have the space to add Barr to the roster.”
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Barr Could Take Pressure off of Parsons
The 30-year-old Barr has remained a free agent heading into the end of July as injuries have taken a toll on him in recent years. Barr was limited to just 11 games during the 2021 season and appeared in just two games during the 2020 season due to a torn pectoral muscle.
Barr registered four straight Pro Bowl campaigns between 2015 and 2018 as a member of the Minnesota Vikings. While he’s certainly not the star that he once was, he’s more than capable of contributing in a secondary role to Parsons.
The veteran linebacker posted 72 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3 interceptions and 5 pass deflections in 11 games during the 2021 season.