The report proved to be posturing entering negotiations as both sides reached an agreement on Sunday.
“The Minnesota Vikings and LB Anthony Barr are working on a restructured contract that reduces his $12.3M salary but makes him a free agent in 2022, per sources,” ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported. “This helps Minnesota’s cap while getting Barr — who had three years left on his deal — two years closer to free agency.”
The Vikings had already cut two salary-cap heavy veterans in Riley Reiff and Kyle Rudolph this offseason. Minnesota, eager to create cap space with free agency opening this week, was expected to reach an ultimatum with Barr.
“The Vikings have consistently made it clear they want to keep Barr in their defense. They still see him as a big matchup problem for offenses, and value his ability to run the huddle and make defensive adjustments before the snap,” Star Tribune reporter Ben Goessling said. “Always seemed like he would stay.”
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Barr’s Put the Vikings First Before
In the 2019 offseason, Barr had told his agent at the time, Ryan Williams, to accept a deal with the New York Jets that would pay him an average of $15 million per year — a rate that priced the Vikings out of keeping the former No. 8 overall pick from 2014.
ESPN’s Courtney Cronin detailed Barr’s dilemma once he verbally agreed to the deal:
Ryan Williams got back on the phone. He told the Jets his client was in and they were ready to get the deal done.
Williams had a three-way conference call with Barr and his mother Lori. In the background, Williams struck up the song made famous by Frank Sinatra, “Theme from New York, New York” to set the mood. This was supposed to be a celebration.
Instead, it felt like a funeral.
Barr was quiet on his end of the phone. There was no joy in his tone of voice.
Meanwhile, someone inside the Jets’ organization apparently leaked the news that Barr was leaving Minnesota, frustrating all three on the phone call.
Barr instantly felt regret for the decision he had just made.
“He said, ‘I feel like I just made the worst mistake of my life,'” Williams said.
Williams worked fast to untangle the agreement and give Minnesota a chance at a final offer. When the two sides agreed to a deal, Barr’s reaction was the polar opposite of his response to the Jets.
“I said, ‘Congrats, dude, you’re a Viking,’ ” Williams said, per Cronin. “And he literally screamed that this was the best day of his life. I said to him, ‘That’s the reaction I was hoping to get yesterday and now that I have it, I actually have to call the other teams and let them know your decision.’ ”
If Fowler’s report is confirmed, Barr has once again chosen loyalty over greenbacks.
“I was trying to convince myself of something I knew that in my heart didn’t feel right, and I think if you follow the heart, I can live with the results,” Barr said, following his return to Minnesota in 2019.
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Vikings Likely to Take Care of Barr in an Evaluation Year
Barr, who returns after undergoing season-ending surgery on a torn pectoral muscle, could be entering a prove-it year where the Vikings assess his value in the downswing of his career.
Over the Cap’s Jason Fitzgerald estimated that had been entered free agency, he wouldn’t garner half of his 2021 salary — likely due to the questions surrounding his recovery.
It’d be a shocker if the Vikings slashed Barr’s salary in half this season after general manager Rick Spielman spoke glowingly of Barr, who turns 29 this month.
By allowing Barr to reach free agency in 2022, the Vikings have given him security this season along with the freedom to control his future in the league.
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