Former Vikings Star Could Be on His Way to New Orleans

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The tenure of Mike Zimmer as a head coach of the Minnesota Vikings was overall a successful one, although the final two seasons of his term were highly disappointing. In the eight years under his reign, the Vikings won 72 of 129 games, ranking them tenth in the NFL. At least for the first six years, a constantly feared defense was the signature feature of his teams, and some excellent players were part of that success.

Former Vikings Star Could Be on His Way to New Orleans

Former Vikings Star Could Be On His Way to New Orleans
Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports.

Harrison Smith, Everson Griffen, Eric Kendricks, Xavier Rhodes, Linval Joseph, and Danielle Hunter were six staples of his defensive units. The organization’s direction was made clear when Rick Spielman made the first draft selection after hiring Zimmer and picked Anthony Barr with the ninth overall pick.

The former Viking is working out for the New Orleans Saints on Monday, trying to find a new team. He played for the Cowboys in 2022 after eight years in the North.

Coming out of UCLA, Barr was considered a superstar player with a high upside, but he was still raw. The reason is obvious, Barr started his college career on the offensive side of the ball and switched from running back to linebacker after two seasons in college.

Eric Kendricks & Anthony Barr
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Recording 13.5 sacks and 21,5 tackles for loss in his first season as a defender, his potential became evident. In 2013, he had a similarly successful season, cementing his first-round draft stock. Zimmer wanted him to be a core part of his defense, which was exactly what happened. In tandem with former college teammate Eric Kendricks, Barr was one part of the scary double-A-gap blitz.

Barr played a different role than he did in college and was an off-ball linebacker, not a pass-rusher. Many fans of the purple team never liked that assignment, although the defender was pretty good at his new job. In his rookie season, Barr recorded 70 tackles and 4 sacks in just 12 games. He also forced a couple of fumbles and returned one for his lone career touchdown in an overtime win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

6 Landing Spots
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Throughout his Vikings career, Barr played in 98 games (all starts), had 495 tackles, 17.5 sacks, and 5 interceptions. He went to four straight Pro Bowls from 2015 to 2018 before chronic knee problems became the norm.

It was an annual debate if Barr would finally line up more often as a traditional pass-rusher, but it never happened. When Ed Donatell came and implemented a 3-4 defense with rushing linebackers, it was the final chance, but fans were left disappointed again.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

With Spielman’s and Zimmer’s departures, the new regime wanted to get younger and eliminate aging veterans. Without any cap space, they let Barr walk, and a bunch of his longtime teammates — Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook, Eric Kendricks — had to leave one year later. He signed with the Cowboys, for whom he played a significant role and still played over 600 snaps.

Now 31 years old, Barr would most either slide into a similar role or be a rotational player with the Saints. 34-year-old All-Pro linebacker Demario Davis is the leader of Dennis Allen’s linebacker group in Louisiana.


Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt

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