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Let’s Settle the Anthony Barr Debate

Exploring whether or not the linebacker warrants a multi-year extension.

I’ll admit it. For a long time I thought Anthony Barr sucked. To be honest I never put much thought into it. I just figured he was playing out of position or he wound up not being the player the team thought he was after being drafted. I mean, it always seemed like he was in the right position to make a big play, but he rarely would. ‘He’s a former first-round pick for [Pete’s] sake,’ I’d growl to my buddies. And his multiple Pro Bowl appearances? Flukes, I thought. It’s the Pro Bowl. I’d rather do my laundry than watch the Pro Bowl. Then, early in the season it struck me — I couldn’t really explain why I felt this way. Why exactly did Barr suck?

It was this question that ultimately led to hours of researching his role and subsequently, his play. What I discovered surprised me…

Back in 2013, the Vikings weren’t very good. Following a disappointing 5-10-1 season in which the defense ranked dead last in the NFL, the team essentially entered rebuilding mode. Head coach Leslie Frazier was fired immediately after the season and his replacement, Mike Zimmer, was hired a few weeks later.

As a rookie head coach in 2014, Zimmer was tasked with transforming the worst defensive unit in the league.

His first order of business? Releasing linebacker Erin Henderson, who had been arrested twice in two months for DWI. A few weeks later, the team re-signed punt returner/cornerback Marcus Sherels and reached a contract extension with defensive end Everson Griffen. In free agency, the Vikings acquired two defensive tackles in Linval Joseph and Tom Johnson as well as cornerback Captain Munnerlyn.

It was a fairly ‘splashy’ inaugural offseason for Zimmer, who had addressed every level of the defense except for one.

Enter linebacker Anthony Barr.

A top prospect

Barr was considered a great pass-rushing prospect coming out of college. After recording 23.5 sacks in two years at UCLA, he was labeled as a 3-4 edge rusher “with the pass-rush potential to effortlessly emerge as a double-digit sack producer,” per his NFL.com draft profile.

The Vikings selected Barr with the 9th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

At the time, Everson Griffen was a 26 year-old project. So with Jared Allen leaving in free agency and Brian Robison turning 30 years old, it made sense that the defensive guru would want to add a premiere pass rusher to the mix.

Or so it would seem…

While Barr possessed the physical attributes to become a dominant pass rusher, Zimmer chose not to use him in that role. Instead, the first-year head coach decided Barr would become a traditional 4-3 outside linebacker.

Yeah…

It was a peculiar decision. Especially considering Barr’s size and his college production. But it wasn’t Zimmer’s first rodeo. He had deployed linebackers with Barr’s stature ever since his days as defensive coordinator with the Dallas Cowboys in the early 2000’s. Since 2001, the following players have started at linebacker under Zimmer:

  • Markus Steele (6-3, 240)
  • Kevin Hardy (6-4, 259)
  • DeMarcus Ware (6-4, 258)
  • Michael Boley (6-3, 236)
  • Brandon Johnson (6-5, 220)
  • Manny Lawson (6-5, 240)

“There is something to be said about having tall linebackers,” Zimmer told Ben Goessling back in 2015. “It’s harder [for opposing quarterbacks] to throw in the seams,” adding, “the big guys who can run have a little bit more punch to them than the little guys who can run.”

Barr (6-5, 255) has incredible athleticism for his size and has positional versatility that not many players in the league possess. His agility was evident at UCLA when he played running back, wide receiver and tight end his first two seasons as a Bruin. It’s also a major factor why Zimmer drafted Barr to be the Sam (strong-side) linebacker in his defense.

Fast forward to 2018. Now five years into his NFL career…

There are times when Barr looks like a man among boys, surging from one side of the field to the other to track down speedy running backs with ease. But there are also times when he looks atrocious. Case-in-point; the Josh Allen hurdle on Sept. 23 and the Sept. 27 matchup against the Rams in which he gave up 3 touchdowns through the air. And most recently, the Bears game.

These frustrating moments have ALWAYS triggered fans to question why the team isn’t using Barr’s natural abilities. After all, Barr proved during his final two seasons at UCLA that he’s a great pass rusher. So, are the Vikings really getting all they can out of the 26 year-old?

Production

Career stats of Anthony Barr, courtesy of Pro Football Reference:

Defense & Fumbles Table
Games Def Interceptions Fumbles Tackles
Year Age Tm Pos No. G GS Int Yds TD Lng PD FF Fmb FR Yds TD Sk Comb Solo Ast TFL QBHits Sfty AV
2014 22 MIN LB 55 12 12 0 0 0 0 3 2 0 3 27 1 4.0 70 55 15 6 7 7
2015* 23 MIN LB 55 14 14 1 32 0 32 7 3 0 0 0 0 3.5 68 54 14 4 8 9
2016* 24 MIN LB 55 16 16 0 0 0 0 4 1 0 1 0 0 2.0 70 37 33 3 8 10
2017* 25 MIN LB 55 16 16 0 0 0 0 6 1.0 75 52 23 9 4 11
2018* 26 MIN LB 55 13 13 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 3.0 55 39 16 8 4 9
Career 71 71 1 32 0 32 22 7 0 4 27 1 13.5 338 237 101 30 31 37
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/5/2019.

 

In a somewhat eye-opening statistic, Barr has only amassed 13.5 sacks in his NFL career. He also has only one career interception. In 2015. In fact, his stats are not impressive by any stretch of the imagination. But when you factor in his role, everything changes.

This season, Barr rushed the passer on 21.6% of passing plays according to Pro Football Focus. Over his NFL career he’s rushed the passer on 20.2% of passing plays. And while Barr is, in fact, rushing the quarterback more than he used to — 1.4 percent more, the team’s head coach isn’t worried about the percentages.

Following a hamstring injury that kept Barr out for a three-game stretch (in which the team went 1-2) during the season, Zimmer explained his impact on the defense during a Week 11 press conference.

“Number one, he’s smart as heck. So I can tell him to do all kinds of different things, make all kinds of different checks and adjustments,” the head coach said. “There’s just some more things we can do with Anthony that allow us to be a little bit more versatile… He dictates the game in a lot of different ways that don’t show up on the stat sheet, and to me that’s important.”

Still, despite the feelings of a coach that often speaks highly of him, it’s tough to judge whether or not Barr’s play is worthy of an extension. I mean, doesn’t the lack of production speak for itself?

Well, consider the role of Barr’s teammate and fellow linebacker Eric Kendricks. Kendricks also plays an important position in Zimmer’s defense and has led the team in tackles the past four seasons. Still, you don’t see a ton of sacks from him either. He has more career interceptions than Barr but that’s because he’s a more natural pass defender. Zimmer’s defensive philosophy has always been to make the opposing offense one-dimensional. Thus, the linebackers are often in pass coverage. That must be taken into account when reviewing Barr’s production.


Halftime

Since I wasn’t the only one who had mixed thoughts on the matter, I posed the question with an ill-advised tweet last month… is Barr underrated in his role, does he underperform, or is he misused? Here are some of the responses I received:

@Carson_Dyle: “Whatever promise Barr once had as a pass rusher has largely been squandered by the Vikings. After all, he’s much better [at] covering slot receivers, as we’ve seen. Easily the most overrated Viking defender in a LONG time.”

@Viksfansince98: “He definitely still has that tendency to coast. When he’s pissed off he can play sideline-to-sideline very aggressively but it only comes in short stints. Watch tape of him as a rookie and there’s no comparison. He’s just [simply] not worth the money he would need to retain him.”

@JosephLarsen2: “Underperforms but is also misused. Simply not a great fit in 4-3, Vikings are hammering square peg into round hole. Still, when he gets opportunities to blitz he’s not very affective.”

@DHaklar: “Wow, I thought he had more sacks than that. He’s the Vikes’ best cover linebacker so he’s schemed out of the box on most plays. Every week he shadows TEs and RBs. He almost always bails once he shows A gap pressure to cover the flat.”

@ilesox: “Overrated. That’s why the team had not resigned.”

Pretty thoughtful responses if I must say so. And thank you everyone for your replies. Clearly the opinions of Barr vary, which is nothing new. But following his late-season surge in production, I posted another tweet, seeing if folks had changed their mind about the Vikings’ linebacker. Here’s a few of the reactions:

@MattP_MN: “Give me Sheldon any day of the week.”

@Superskolfan: “If I still had to choose between him and Richardson… I’d still go Richardson… but man is that decision going to be tough”

@CromsCorner: “I don’t think he’s worth keeping for the price he’s going to want. It seems like, at any position in Zimmer’s defense, people can step in and produce. I’d rather lose him and get an O lineman. Lose Rudy. Get another O lineman.”

@Rolltide_mn: “If Barr played with that intensity every week we wouldn’t be asking this question he would already be re-signed.”

@KyleStGermain7: “Never viewed him negatively, I think Sheldon is out sadly. Lined Griffen up At 3T last Sunday could be something that’s permanent next season. And Barr being Zims original draft pick and the leader of this defense don’t see him going anywhere anytime soon”


Game tape

It was Zimmer himself that once accused Barr of having “a tendency to coast a little bit.” And while that comment was made in 2016, Barr’s production had dipped every year since his rookie season. Even so, if I’ve learned one thing as a football writer, it’s that stats don’t tell the full story — especially when it comes to judging a player’s value.

So what does the tape reveal? In the Week 4 matchup in Los Angeles, the whole country witnessed Barr getting torched by the Rams. He allowed four catches for 119 yards and three touchdowns through the air. He received some nasty criticism for his play, including from myself. But was it really all on him? After taking a look at this thread by VT’s Nick Olson, it’s fair to gather that the claims were not completely justified, despite what the TV cameras showed. While Barr certainly had an off-day, consider this… He allowed 73 receiving yards the rest of the season.

In 13 games in 2018, Barr gave up 22 receptions (on 30 targets) for 207 yards and three touchdowns. The 22 catches were the fewest he’s allowed in any season of his career. It’s safe to say the Rams game was an outlier. Here’s a look at Barr’s highlights from the season:

As Joseph Tillman pointed out in this article after the Dolphins game, Barr does more than what’s captured on TV. Not only is he one of the best cover linebackers in all of football, he creates opportunities for his teammates, does what he’s told to do (by coach Zimmer) and effectively creates pressure on the quarterback. He’s a multi-threat defender. Therefore, he doesn’t always pad the stat sheets, but his versatility is a major reason the Vikings defense tied for second in the league with 50 sacks in 2018.

That being said, Barr doesn’t always shine on tape. Take this play for example.

Barr goes untouched on a blitz right up the middle. He should be blowing up the running back, crushing him backward into the face of the quarterback. Instead, he mysteriously avoids contact with a much smaller blocker, giving the opposing quarterback an open window to make a throw and takes himself out the play at the same time. While this appears to be another one of those plays that’s ‘out of the norm’ for Barr, he’s known to leave fans scratching their heads with inconsistent play and efforts such as this.

Still, despite the occasional blunders and low stat production, Barr is one of the best outside linebackers in the NFL. He may not be the most impactful player on the stat sheet, but he has quietly become an extremely well-rounded defender.

UPDATE: Nick Olson just sent Barr’s season-ending results:

  • 2nd in yards allowed per coverage snap,
  • 3rd in targets per coverage snap,
  • 3rd in catches allowed per coverage snap,
  • 1st in pass rushing productivity, and
  • 15th in run defense grade.

Looking ahead

The head coach has made his thoughts clear on the matter many times. Last offseason, Zimmer quelled trade rumors surrounding Barr, stating “Anthony is my guy, No. 1… We are unequivocally not trying to trade Anthony. He’s the first draft pick I ever had with me. He’s helped this defense [become] pretty good.”

Barr has been with the Vikings throughout Zimmer’s entire tenure as head coach. During that time, the defense has literally gone from being the worst in the league to the best in the NFL. But does he actually like the role he’s in?

Well, it’s not just Zimmer that has voiced his feelings. Barr himself has expressed a desire to return to the Vikings on multiple occasions.

Back in August, Barr told Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press that he “absolutely” wants to sign a long-term deal with the Vikings. With two pieces of the defense getting locked up (Eric Kendricks and Danielle Hunter) before the 2018 season, Barr was seen as the next logical player to have his contract extended. But with the additions of Kirk Cousins and Sheldon Richardson using up most of the available money, it didn’t happen. Now, with the team stretched thin in the cap department this upcoming offseason, it leaves more questions than answers.

The Vikings are in a peculiar situation when it comes to signing Barr to an extension. Barr’s agent will undoubtedly try to get his client the most money possible. That means paying him like an edge rusher. But being that he’s a traditional 4-3 linebacker, the team will clearly try to pay him as such.

At all costs?

In the last season (5th-year option) of his rookie deal, Barr made $12.306 million. This offseason, when it comes to determining his future, the team has options. They can sign him to a multi-year extension, apply the franchise tag, or let him walk.

A multi-year extension was discussed in a recent article by Mark Craig of the Star Tribune. Craig wrote that the Cleveland Browns signed Jamie Collins to a four-year, $50 million deal in 2017 with $26.4M guaranteed, setting the market for 4-3 outside linebackers. While it’s unclear if Barr would settle for around $12.5M per year, it’s fair to assume the team will use that as a benchmark in negotiations. Barr likely wants more. How much more is the real question.

The franchise tag for a linebacker is projected to be $14.96 million in 2019 per OverTheCap.com. While it may be common knowledge that the Vikings don’t use the franchise tag very often, it doesn’t mean they never will. To say they won’t go that route because of their history is short-sighted. But to argue the team doesn’t have much cap space and would like to bring back Sheldon Richardson and sign some offensive line help in free agency is a more inclusive point.

Another important factor the Vikings must address is how to replace Barr if he walks. He could easily find his way to a team that embraces and utilizes his pass-rushing abilities and no one would blame him. But based on the years of experience he has in Zimmer’s system and the fact the defense has essentially been built around him, it’s hard to believe losing Barr would be in the team’s best interest.

Boasting a staff of Rick Spielman, Rob Brzezinski, Anne Doepner, George Paton and company, the Vikings have some of the best salary cap managers in the NFL. If anyone can figure out how to make the structure of a long-term contract extension work with Barr, it’s them.

The discovery

What I found out this season is that Barr is extremely underrated in his role. He doesn’t suck. In fact, I’d argue the contrary. He’s legitimately one of the best outside linebackers in football. Sure, I’d like to see him rush the passer more, and perhaps the right acquisition this offseason could make that a possibility, but that’s not the point. Like any player he’s going to struggle at times, but like it or not he’s an integral part of an upper-tier NFL defense.

Considering how important Barr is to the Vikings, it would be surprising if the team allowed “Zimmer’s guy” to walk and play elsewhere in 2019. Even if it’s one more year, the team should use any means necessary to bring him back.

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Sean Borman

Sean Borman is a writer with Minnesota roots that's still somehow an optimist. He was an intern with the Vikings during college and previously wrote for Rant Sports. You can find Sean on the golf course and on Twitter @SeanBoarMan.

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43 Comments

    1. Vikadan! What’s up dude! We’re pushing the board now, HARD, so hopefully we’ll get it going! You’re the best man!

      This is an amazing piece. Makes me wish they used him to rush the QB more though.

      1. Yeah I had to have a double bypass and then I had a heart attack 5 or 6 days later and I followed that with a mild stroke three weeks after that ~ So I been making my living on tweeter so to speed ~ I just haven’t been able to get into reading a lot and those short posts have fit me much better ~ But I’m starting to get back to my old self ~ Still a ways to go but I’m getting there ~

        1. Mother of God, Gordon! I think the only thing you were missing there was the Cossacks riding through your room! Best wishes for a complete recovery, sir.

  1. I don’t know how I feel about keeping Barr, but I was thinking if we “got rid of” Everson Griffen, we could afford a Bar Extension. The only catch is, we would probably need to use Barr in more pass rushing situations in that scenario.

  2. Sean, as I mentioned in response to Luke Inman’s tweet “weekly is Anthony Barr hurt play”:
    You can see Barr cut left while RB is hard to A gap. Looks like Barr thought he could slip right behind, but RB slammed the brakes. Why try to run thru a guy you think you could slip past? By the time he would need to decide to run thru him, it’s too late. He wasn’t avoiding contact because he was afraid to hit the RB, he just slightly misread the great play by the RB.

    1. I got the feeling it was happening because of the play of Sheldon Richardson who is a fine pass rusher and at times good vs the run ~ But against above average OG\Centers it seem to me he got pushed around and that in turned let Barr get pushed around ~ JMHO ~ Doesn’t mean I’m right or that the Vikings agree with me either ~ I was wrong once in my life ~ Dont believe me just ask my ex wife ~ Smile Face 🙂

      1. It would be interesting to know how PFF and others scored our DT’s in run defense, because we certainly seemed to have a problem there at times, and a lot of the blame has been flowing in Linval Joseph’s direction.

        Regarding Richardson, I think he will be too expensive to re-sign, but I think we have the bodies under contract in Jaleel Johnson, Jalyn Holmes and Ifeadi Odenigbo who, in some combination, should be able to replace him.

        1. Vikings defensive line grades against the run, per Pro Football Focus:

          DT Linval Joseph: 78.1
          DE Everson Griffen: 76.1
          DT Sheldon Richardson: 73.3
          DE Stephen Weatherly: 70.2
          DE Tashawn Bower: 70.2
          DE Danielle Hunter: 67.7
          DT/DE: Jalyn Holmes: 65.1
          DT Ifeadi Odenigbo: 61.3
          DT Jaleel Johnson: 58.8
          DT Tom Johnson: 56.2

          1. Thanks, Sean. Yeah, that’s none too impressive. We’ve seen Zimmer and his staff fix things from one season to the next, so I expect Andre Patterson will be working with the guys to improve the Run D for 2019, whoever’s on the team. It does make me more worried about losing Richardson, though.

            Um, Sean, any chance you you could provide us with the Run D grades for the linebackers, too? And let us know who’s grades were up (Barr?) or down (Kendricks?) for 2018? Pretty please?

            1. Since you asked nicely… run grades, courtesy of PFF:

              ANTHONY BARR:
              2017 = 61.9
              2018 = 74.7

              ERIC KENDRICKS:
              2017 = 63.0
              2018 = 66.4

              BEN GEDEON:
              2017 = 79.9
              2018 = 63.9

              ERIC WILSON:
              2017 = DNQ
              2018 = 72.8

              Here’s a look at the DL again w/ grades from 2017:

              LINVAL JOSEPH:
              2017 = 90.4
              2018 = 78.1

              EVERSON GRIFFEN:
              2017 = 71.0
              2018 = 76.1

              SHELDON RICHARDSON:
              2017 = 69.9 (SEA)
              2018 = 73.3

              DANIELLE HUNTER:
              2017 = 82.1
              2018 = 67.7

              STEPHEN WEATHERLY:
              2017 = 49.2
              2018 = 70.2

              TOM JOHNSON:
              2017 = 67.6
              2018 = 56.2

              JALEEL JOHNSON:
              2017 = 74.3
              2018 = 58.8

              JALYN HOLMES:
              2017 = DNQ
              2018 = 65.1

              TASHAWN BOWER:
              2017 = DNQ
              2018 = 70.2

              IFEADI ODENIGBO:
              2017 = DNQ
              2018 = 61.3

              1. The big drops for Joseph and Gedeon are worrisome, whereas it looks like Sebastian Thunderbuckets has returned to his mean, more’s the pity. On the other hand, I’m hoping that Hunter’s and Jaleel Johnson’s declining scores are one-time dips caused by, for the former, not being used to playing on the right side of the line when he was filling in for Griffen, and for the latter, from playing six times as many defensive snaps as the previous year.

                Thanks, Sean.

  3. In the 3rd paragraph of the “At All Costs?” section, you used “short-sided”. I believe it’s supposed to be “short-sighted”.

  4. A great article about something that has been a contentious issue for all dedicated Vikes fans / horn-donning nerds for a few years. I respectfully gotta disagree here. I mean the guy is immensely talented and gifted, no one argues that. I just don’t see that crazy effort that it would take to propel him to superstar LB status. I don’t think the infamous Zim “coast” remark was an accidental slip. I think Coach Zimmer wanted to light the fire. We all have seen when Anthony Barr is playing all out, just how impressive he is. So he can play like an elite LB, no question. And given the market and his notoriety, he’s gonna get paid like one from next year forward, no question. If he was smart about it, he’d want longer term and maximum guaranteed cash, no question. (Injuries happen, what if Aaron Rodgers tried to take revenge one day? (clutches pearls and gasps)) So my concern is this if Spielman/Zim pay Barr something competitive to what he’d get if he walked (60M / 4 years, 40 guaranteed or whatever)… *Does that inspire him to play at his highest level … or does he acheive superstardom in all measureable means, stats, paychecks, etc… and then does he, gulp, coast? I’ve seen him chill just a bit before the whistle too many times to think that he’s gonna keep his foot on the gas for us after the ink dries. I like the guy, wish him all the best, hope he doesn’t stay in the division… but I wouldn’t be shocked to see him get superpaid by another team. anyway, thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks a lot Dylan! Just an FYI about the coasting comment, this is from Mark Craig’s article:

      Zimmer said he “probably shouldn’t have used that term.”

      “I didn’t do it to bother him,” Zimmer said. “In fact, I kind of meant he’s such a smooth athlete that sometimes it looks like he’s coasting.”

      So take that as you may, but I personally think the comment was blown out of proportion. I do think you have a valid concern about him landing in the division tho. IF he leaves, that is…

      1. It was also said, what, once, and never repeated since then by Zimmer, and yet a whole host of fans act as if it is an accurate description of his play the last two seasons, too.

  5. Cut Griffin, he’s no longer a factor, move Barr to edge opposite Hunter and have Wilson replace Barr at LB.

      1. Except that physically, in height and weight, Wilson is much closer to Kendricks than he is to Barr. Can Wilson even do most of what Barr does? Personally, I’d seriously consider trading Kendricks and replacing him with Wilson, and using Kendricks’ cap space as a base to build up the money to re-sign Barr.

        1. And I think folks are jumping the gun on writing off Griffen, and in assuming that Weatherly can be anything more than an adequate replacement for him. Griffen had 5.5 sacks on 584 defensive snaps this season to Weatherly’s 3 sacks on 523 defensive snaps. That’s 1 sack per 106.2 defensive snaps to 1 per 174.3. I would much rather find a way to keep the Hunter, Griffen and Weatherly rotation going in 2019 than try to fill the hole cutting Griffen might leave us with.

  6. Good article, but still don’t see the value in signing Barr IF we continue to use him in the role he has. It is true that he has a unique skill set and elite size-athleticism, and I’ll take Zim’s word that Barr is very smart. But it would make zero sense to dump $12M+ on Barr given how we play him. He is a natural pass rusher and yet Zimmer rarely has Barr blitz through the A-gaps (or otherwise). Other teams now realize that Kendricks and Barr routinely line up in A-gaps and then drop into coverage — almost always. Same for Harrison Smith. While this formation used to scare opposing QBs because fo the uncertainty and effectiveness if Barr and/or Kendricks actually blitz, good offensive coordinators and QBs have figured out that 90% of the time Barr/Kendricks/Smith will just drop back into coverage — and they are scheming pass routes to take advantage of our clogging the center of the OL.

    I like Anthony Barr and would sign him if we could get him for $10M or less. That ain’t gonna happen, and it would be a big mistake to sign a “normal” 4-3 cover OLB to a $10M+ contract, IMO.

    1. You have good points. Is a top-end OLB worth THAT kind of money? I believe he is, but that’s just my opinion.

      Also, offenses SEEM to be catching on to the double-A gap formation tendencies. That’s a big reason why I think we can both agree that Barr should be sent blitzing more often.

      Thank you for the read!

      1. Or F~Tag him and trade him to a 3~4 team if he can’t be resign that is ~ I believe we would get far more for him than what the NFL would award the Vikings the following year if he was lost in FA~

        1. I think you’re right about his potential trade value, GG. I think a lot of fans would be surprised at what we might be able to get for Barr.

  7. We went 1-2 without Barr last year, but who did we play? The Bears (which we lost to later in the year WITH Barr and a game we HAD to win), and the Saints (number 1 seed in NFC – pretty good team). We beat the Lions. So would we have won either of those games if we had Barr? Probably not.

    Before we toss the baby out with the bathwater OR before we over pay for a player we dont need we need to look at 2 other things. How did his backup play, and can he develop into an above average football player? If he played Ok (he seems to have Wilson was it?) to good, then is Barr REALLY worth the cap space he would eat?

    You can NOT just look at Barr alone in this decision. You HAVE TO look at the alternatives as well…

    1. Barr is a talented payer, no question. Is he worth 12-14 mil? Probably. But is he worth 12-14 mil TO THIS TEAM? Is he THAT much better than the guy behind him?

      I dont think Zim has had a defensive coaching change since he has been here has he? The coaches they have on that side of the ball are pretty good at developing talent. Seems to me if we lose Barr to FA, we wont lose all that much in production.

      We NEED that cap space to keep our 28 mil QB off the carpet more. IMHO anyway.

      1. Good points. The Vikings definitely need to address to the o-line and that’s going to be tough if all the money is used up on Barr and/or Richardson. It’s going to take some cap creativity…

        There’s for sure alternate options to replace Barr, but I don’t think the team would be able to find a player that’s capable of doing what he can for the defense. You could replace him with a big linebacker in the draft, but a rookie won’t have Barr’s experience. You could also take a veteran guy like Mychal Kendricks, but he doesn’t have the size Zimmer likes in his Sam linebackers, not to mention he’s coming off a broken leg.

        Wilson would be the most likely replacement. The defense did allow 262.3 yards per game when Barr was out (and Wilson started) vs. 320 when Barr started but that was not a large sample size. Considering the team is built to win now and the roster is pretty dang complete, you don’t want to create a huge need at LB to fill. Not to mention losing Barr would give the Zimmer and the defense less versatility and IMO a higher chance of regressing.

  8. Great piece, Sean! You nailed in so many ways–right from the jump when you talked about not liking him but didn’t really know why. I think that is the case with so many people regarding Barr. I have said and continue to maintain that they have to resign him. I see how Zim talks about him and I know he wants to. It’s all the other noise that we hear that gives me pause. Now I am pumped about it again. With Zim’s uncertainty in the final year of his contract, he is not going to want to let this integral cog of his defense walk. Robb B the Cap Master needs to get it done.

    1. Thanks Joe! I appreciate you reading it. It makes me feel better knowing you’re on my side about this lol

  9. Excellent piece, Sean, but how could you not mention that Barr was trying to cover wide receivers when he got torched in the Rams game?!? Even some of the inveterate Barr haters gave him a bit of a pass for being forced to cover Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods.

    1. Thanks for pointing out my laziness CKA haha. I was hoping everyone would click on Nick Olson’s thread which explains all of that…

      1. Well, I did click on Olson’s thread, but I thought of busting your chops for that egregious omission before I did so and still thought you deserved it!

  10. I’m a little surprised that Mostly Always’ highlight reel for Barr doesn’t include his stop on the Jets’ Bilal Powell. It got a “Whoa!” from me at the time, and that was before I heard the bad news that the hit could end Powell’s career.

      1. Yeah, I saw that in Nick’s thread and was surprised that Luke Inman wasn’t all that impressed with the tackle. Barr got a bead on Powell and stopped him dead in his tracks as if there was no “congestion” around them.

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