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Barr contract “more albatross than boost”

Brezinski I’ve come to bargain

The Minnesota Vikings are like me in college, broke and constantly letting our loved ones down. Many people stuck in a ‘Doctor Strange’ esque time loop in 2018 blame quarterback Kirk Cousins for the Vikings’ financial situation, but like most things in life the real answer isn’t that simple.

Vikings Twitter after every Vikings loss (especially those in which Cousins had a > 130 quarterback rating, 300 yards, 3 touchdowns, etc).

Brzezinski I’ve come to bargain.

The cap masters over at have done a team-by-team breakdown of the worst contracts per team, and unsurprisingly (for anyone, again, not stuck in 2018) they did NOT point to Cousins’ deal as the worst on the team.

Instead, they pointed to Anthony Barr, the former first-round pick out of UCLA. Barr has been a divisive player among Vikings fans, with some hailing the things he does well (that don’t show up on the stat sheet) while others point out that Barr hasn’t lived up to his potential.

First, let’s see what OTC said:

“But Barr’s big-play production took a hit after he got his big payday in 2019—just 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble and an interception. He missed almost all of the 2020 season after he tore his pectoral muscle in Week 2. And while Barr is a capable linebacker, he’s not a game-changer.
For a Vikings team that’s already upside down against the salary cap, Barr’s cap hit … is more albatross than boost.”

The easiest way to explain whether or not Barr is as vital to this Vikings defense is to look at the drop in play, if any, from when he hasn’t been on the field.

Let’s take a look at his last couple seasons according to Pro Football Focus:

Anthony Barr:

Now, let’s look at Eric Wilson:

As you can see, Barr has been declining rapidly since 2017. Barr also coincidentally is the third highest paid player on the Vikings’ roster, something that has to change this off-season.

The Vikings can’t simply cut Barr, as the dead cap space would be far too much for the Vikings to shoulder. That means one of two things.

They could try to get Barr to restructure his deal, which seems to be the go to by Rob Brzezinski and the Vikings brass. However, Barr already accepted less money by spurning the New York Jets at the 23rd hour a few off-seasons ago.

It also isn’t the best idea from a team building (or PR) perspective to continue to agree to terms with players only to ask them to actually accept less money a year or two later. What free agent would want to sign/resign with a team that deals with all of their cap issues that way?

It feels a tad disingenuous, as if the Vikings aren’t actually negotiating these deals in good faith. Whether or not that’s true, one could make that argument which mean it may as well be true as far as players are concerned.

The second option?

They could trade Barr. That may seem impossible considering his season-ending pectoral injury, contract size, and diminishing play. However, as Xavier Rhodes showed this season in Indianapolis, perhaps the problem isn’t these former All Pro level players but rather the system they play in and the coach that runs said system.

Every Vikings website has put together different trade scenarios for Houston Texans quarterback DeShaun Watson. Nick Olson, who contributes to this site, pitched the following on Twitter this week: Cousins, Danielle Hunter, a 1st-round and 3rd-round pick.

Why not throw Barr in there to avoid the first-round pick (or perhaps the Danielle Hunter piece). Then again, there’s no reality in which Watson ends up in purple but there is also no reality in which the Vikings keep paying Barr > $15 million a season.

How they rectify that remains to be seen. Perhaps a team will look at Rhodes and the fact that Barr just entered his physical prime (he’s 28) and send over a third-round pick for him. Then they’ll run a 3-4 and Barr will end up as a neo-Khalil Mack perennial All Pro while the Vikings trade down from the third round to amass five 7th-round picks that amount to nothing.

You know, team building.

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Joe Johnson

Joe Johnson started back in 2015 & in 2019, and purchased before the 2017-18 season , used to write for and is the host of the ’Morning Joes’ & ‘About the Labor’ Podcasts, as well. Follow on Twitter: @vtPTSD

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1 month ago

I’ve never seen or heard before that in order to “cover” your hometown team, you had to be negative all the time?! I’m not asking you to be like Sid (RIP), but you don’t have to be Reusse or Sansevere either… how about some good with bad… you know news? Not the constant “opinion” that our media seems to have devolved into. If this is just an opinion site, I apologize, I misunderstood. I will gladly go elsewhere for my Vikings news… if it is not… please try using facts and direct quotes. It seems like you wear Viking horns to hide your cheesehead…

Reply to  Earjak
1 month ago

Good article with very good facts. I thought it was ridiculous for the Vikings to extend Barr. If Zimmer’ is not going to use him correctly then there is no reason to overpay a system guy. Barr needs to be a difference maker. Get after the Qb and cause havoc. Tired of the bend don’t break defense that we play. Barr needs to move on with that salary. Good article joe

1 month ago

How is going from 71.5 overall to 70.5 overall, while improving one’s run defense and going from way above average to merely above average in pass rush, declining “rapidly?” If you want to say that Barr had declined from 2017 to 2019, okay, PFF’s numbers indicate that, but to say he had rapidly declined since 2017 ignores the fact that he actually pretty much plateaued in 2018.

Boy, this comments system sucks. Why is it that the new comments system of every sports site I frequent has been worse than the one it replaced?

1 month ago

Did you actually think showing Eric Wilson’s PFF grades would make Barr look worse, or no better? Wilson’s run D was horrific this season, and his splash plays all ended around Game 9. And you might have noted that Barr’s bad 2020 grade was based on less than two games of play.