The No. 9 overall pick in 2014, Barr was a mainstay on the Vikings defense throughout the Mike Zimmer era, earning four Pro Bowl nods in his eight years in Minnesota.
Barr, 30, bet on himself last offseason, voiding the final two years of his contract to become a free agent this spring. However, he remains on the market with most NFL teams filling out their 90-man rosters ahead of training camp.
That doesn’t mean the four-time Pro Bowler is finished in the NFL by any means.
ESPN’s Bill Barnwell named Barr among 10 high-profile free agents who will land with a new team in 2022 — penning Barr to land with a rival in the NFC who could unleash his potential as a pass-rusher.
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Barr to the Cowboys
In 2019, the Jets signed Barr to a five-year deal in the $70 million range amid rumors that they were going to turn the linebacker into an edge rusher. Barr backed out of the deal and re-signed with the Vikings, but while he saw occasional reps on the edge, the Vikings didn’t unleash Barr as a pass-rusher. He racked up four sacks over three seasons while missing 22 games, most notably with a torn pec in 2020.
Now that he’s a free agent, what if a team took a chance on using Barr in more of a hybrid role? We saw the Cowboys unlock something truly special from Micah Parsons by using their 2020 first-round pick as both an off-ball linebacker and an edge rusher a year ago. Barr isn’t Parsons, but after Dallas lost Randy Gregory this past offseason, Barr would give the Cowboys another eligible rusher who is also capable of playing a more traditional linebacker role.
It’s also worth noting that Barr has a connection in Dallas to Cowboys defensive assistant George Edwards, who served as the Vikings’ defensive coordinator from 2014 to 2019.
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O’Connell Keeping Barr in Mind
Following the Vikings’ final game of the 2021 season, Barr bid Minnesota adieu, knowing the nature of the business.
“It’s definitely bittersweet to end this way, but it kind of is what it is, so,” Barr said in a January 9 press conference. “I’ve been doing it long enough to understand what kind of comes next, keep things in perspective and just be ready for whatever happens in the future.”
It seemed like Barr was prepared for his departure, however, upon Kevin O’Connell’s arrival, the Vikings’ new coach took inventory of the Vikings’ weapons and mentioned Barr.
“With linebackers Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr, those guys have long been huge issues for people in this league defensively. 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,” O’Connell said in his introductory press conference on February 17. “And then I think we’ve got players both internal and on the edges defensive line-wise that can impact the quarterback.”
The mention of Barr, while he was a free agent, offered the possibility that the Vikings may bring Barr back.
And until he signs a contract, the possibility isn’t out of question.