Longtime Viking Plopped in Steelers Rumor Mill

Cordarrelle Patterson
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports.

The Pittsburgh Steelers lost starting inside linebacker Cole Holcomb for the rest of the season last week due to a knee injury.

Pittsburgh has a 5-3 record after Week 9, with a 44.6% probability of reaching the postseason, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI).

Longtime Viking Plopped in Steelers Rumor Mill

The Steelers playoff hopes — and perhaps an AFC North chip — are there for the taking, and with Holcomb out, a name familiar to Vikings fans has been tossed in Pittsburgh’s free-agent rumor mill.

The man is Anthony Barr, and he played in Minnesota for eight seasons.

Plopped in Steelers
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

Barr last played for the Dallas Cowboys in 2022, departing the Vikings after the 2021 campaign, and has remained a free agent since the Cowboys relationship. He’s available to sign anywhere in the NFL, and some believe that could or should be with the Steelers.

Bleacher Report opined this week on Barr-to-Steelers, “The Steelers already needed help at linebacker going into the Thursday night game against the Titans. Then Cole Holcomb suffered a season-ending knee injury, and the need became even worse. The Steelers’ chances of continuing to win rely on playing good defense, so finding a veteran who can fill in could be crucial.”

Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports.

Throughout the summer, the New York Giants, New York Jets, and New Orleans Saints allegedly had some degree of interest in Barr, but no deal(s) came together.

“Anthony Barr is among the most qualified free agents to take that job. He started 10 games for the Cowboys last season and compiled 58 total tackles with two for a loss, a sack and four quarterback hits,” Bleacher Report concluded about Barr’s free agency.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports.

Drafted by Minnesota in 2014 at the start of the Mike Zimmer era, Barr played 98 games in eight seasons for the Vikings, recording four Pro Bowls from 2015 to 2018. From 2020 to 2021, Barr missed 63% of all football games for the Vikings, and Minnesota’s defense suffered accordingly. In Barr’s first six seasons, the Vikings defense ranked #1 in the NFL per defensive EPA/Play. From 2020 to 2021 — largely without the services of Danielle Hunter and Barr — the franchise sunk to 23rd in the same metric.

Barr tallied a 59.7 grade from Pro Football Focus in Dallas last year while playing 609 defensive snaps, a worthwhile amount.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports.

If the rumor is correct, which is sometimes a longshot, Barr would join this ILB corps in Pittsburgh:

  • Kwon Alexander
  • Elandon Roberts
  • Mark Robinson
  • Tariq Carpenter (PS)
  • Mykal Walker (PS)

The Steelers also employ former Vikings players Mason Cole (C), Patrick Peterson (CB), Chandon Sullivan (CB), and Armon Watts (DT).

Barr will turn 32 in March.


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 Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

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