Not So Fast on Anthony Barr and the Saints

Anthony Barr Could
Dec 26, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Anthony Barr (55) directs the defense against the Los Angeles Rams during the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Ex-Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr visited the New Orleans Saints on Monday. One day later, folks were just waiting for confirmation of the signing, but that might not come after all. Barr is one of the best available free agents.

Not So Fast on Anthony Barr and the Saints

Saints head coach Dennis Allen could get another excellent player to help the group redeem themselves after a totally wasted first year under his tenure.

Not So Fast on Anthony Barr and the Saints
Oct 22, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr (55) sacks Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) during the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Barr visited the Saints, and then on Tuesday at lunchtime, Diana Russini from ESPN tweeted: “The New Orleans Saints are expected to sign both Kareem Hunt and Anthony Barr, if both players pass their physicals and are in shape, per sources.”

What appeared to be a done deal — wasn’t a done deal three hours later. Mike Garafolo reported: “Free agent LB Anthony Barr had a good visit with the Saints but is departing without a deal, source says. New Orleans remains in play for him, but he has interest from other teams and could make more visits in the near future.”

A deal can still happen and wouldn’t be shocking at all, but it is quite the twist from a signature-ready deal to him leaving without a contract and gauging other options.

The linebacker was a star on UCLA’s campus after switching positions to linebacker. He started as a running back, unusual for a guy of his size at 6’5″. The position change was a massive success as he fired up 149 tackles, 23.5 sacks, and 41.5 tackles for loss in only two seasons on defense. Of course, he drew first-round interest through his production and exciting athleticism on the field and at the scouting combine.

Nov 13, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer (L) shakes hands with Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr (55) prior to the game against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings had just hired Mike Zimmer as their head coach and owned the ninth overall selection in 2014’s draft. Zimmer wanted Barr, and he got him. Barr was a staple of some excellent defenses under Zimmer’s reign in the following eight years and departed with him. The two were connected for their complete Vikings careers. Barr and his college and Vikings teammate Eric Kendricks were the two guys to perform Zimmer’s patented double-A-gap blitz.

Barr was used differently with the Vikings than in college, where he was a pass-rusher. Under Zimmer, he was an off-ball linebacker, and he was a pretty good one, playing in the Pro Bowl four times from 2015 to 2018. In 98 games with the purple team, Barr recorded 495 tackles, 39 tackles for loss, and 17.5 sacks.

Eric Kendricks / Anthony Barr
Sep 8, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings middle linebacker Eric Kendricks (54) and outside linebacker Anthony Barr (55) celebrate after a play against the Atlanta Falcons during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

With the departure of Zimmer and the hiring of 3-4 coordinator Ed Donatell, some folks hoped for Barr’s return to slide over to a pass-rushing linebacker position, but it never happened. He instead joined the Cowboys for the 2022 season and played a significant role on their scary defense, logging more than 600 snaps.

If Barr joins Allen’s defense in New Orleans, he will return to U.S. Bank Stadium on November 12th in the Week 10 matchup.

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