Anthony Barr Linked to New-but-Familiar Team

Jul 30, 2021; Eagan, MN, United States; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Total silence has surrounded the free agency of Anthony Barr, a Minnesota Vikings linebacker who spent eight seasons with the organization.

Barr was drafted at the dawn of the Mike Zimmer era in 2014, tallying four Pro Bowls during the timeframe.

After the 2021 season concluded in Minnesota, Barr returning in 2022 felt like a longshot. The UCLA alumnus posted this to social media in January, implying “the end” was nigh with the Vikings:

And this week, former Vikings linebacker Ben Leber speculated injuries might be the cause of Barr’s free-agent quiescence. Perhaps the man has a knee malady too grave for a ninth NFL season. It happens.

In any event, Barr remains a free agent — one that played at a high level in 2021. He alone authored game-changing plays for the Vikings in two games (at Baltimore and vs. Los Angeles Rams) last season, but Minnesota squandered those opportunities. There was a lot of that last season.

In theory, Barr could return to the Vikings, but that outlook is dampened because it likely would’ve happened already. As the depth chart stands two weeks before the NFL Draft, Eric Kendricks and Jordan Hicks are scheduled to fill the off-ball linebacker jobs.

Recently, though, CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin predicted Barr might land with the New York Jets in free agency — a team that almost acquired Barr in the spring of 2019. At the last minute, Barr lamented the then-imminent decision, changed his mind, and returned to Minnesota for three more years.

Dec 26, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Anthony Barr. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Benjamin theorized where 15 of the league’s best remaining free agents might end up, and he explained Barr to the Jets this way:

Remember when these two almost struck a lucrative free-agent deal before he settled back into Minnesota? Well, with the Vikings adding at LB this year, he could finally relocate to New York and give Robert Saleh’s unit added experience/versatility.

Cody Benjamin | CBS Sports

If Barr is healthy and his knee is much ado about nothing, this indeed checks out. The Jets need linebackers, and Barr was quite productive in 2021.

By this time on the calendar, though, Barr probably wouldn’t command a large contract as was once thought when free agency commenced. The working theory was Barr could net a bigger deal on the open market than with Minnesota, but this utter silence regarding his free agency has changed the projection.

Barr turned 30 in March.

Interestingly, in the same article by Benjamin, he predicted a Minnesota acquisition of Akiem Hicks from the Bears. Yes, the infamous Viking killer.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).