This offseason may mark the end of an era for the Minnesota Vikings and their defense.
General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell represent a new power structure in Minneapolis, which could mean the end of some familiar faces as they attempt to build the franchise in their own collective image.
ESPN’s Derrik Klassen on Friday, March 4 proposed one such “bold move” in the form of moving on from four-time Pro-Bowl linebacker Anthony Barr when the NFL’s free agency period officially opens later this month.
A healthy Barr is still a good player. If the Vikings were running it back for another season with [former head coach] Mike Zimmer and his staff, it would make sense to keep him. He knows the defense and has proven to be effective on the blitzes Zimmer so dearly loves. However, with Zimmer out and Barr coming up on 30 years old next month, it might be best for both sides to have a clean cut.
Barr earned about $8.65 million last year, and it’s unlikely he would take less than that now. Seeing as the Vikings are not likely to be strong contenders in the next year or two given all the roster turnover, re-signing a linebacker to an expensive contract heading into his thirties does not feel like the best use of resources.
ALL the latest Vikings news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Vikings newsletter here!
O’Connell Has Hinted Barr Could Be Back With Vikings in 2022
Bold moves are described as such for a reason, and the new Vikings regime has not yet committed to any major overhaul on either side of the ball.
O’Connell addressed the media for the first time as the Vikings head coach on February 17. He hinted during that press conference that Barr might be back in Minnesota next year while discussing the team’s plan to shift to a 3-4 defensive scheme moving forward.
“With linebackers Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr, those guys have long been huge issues for people in this league defensively,” O’Connell said. “I think there’s ways to use those guys and allow them to play with an attacking mindset, while they’re still responsible for the things they’re responsible for defensively. And then I think we’ve got players both internal and on the edges defensive line-wise that can impact the quarterback.”
Bringing Barr Back to Minnesota Will be Expensive For Vikings
Barr is looking for a new multiyear deal this offseason after agreeing to a reduced salary in 2021. He did so as consideration after the Vikings agreed to void the final two years of Barr’s previously agreed upon contract. The linebacker was scheduled to make $12.3 million last season before taking a more than $2.6 million pay cut.
The former No. 9 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Barr has played the entirety of his nine-year career in Minnesota. But his contractual decisions indicate clearly that Barr is open to hearing other offers.
The Vikings, too, may be interested in allowing Barr to play the field. While the linebacker made the Pro Bowl every season from 2015-18, he’s been less reliable since — both in terms of productivity and availability. Barr started just 13 of a possible 33 games over the previous two campaigns due mostly to a torn pectoral in 2020 and knee issues last year.