The biggest names in free agency signed long ago, back when the NFL market initially opened up in mid-March, but that doesn’t mean solid contributors can’t still be found this late in the offseason. One of the more established players who remains available for any team to sign is four-time Pro Bowl linebacker, Anthony Barr.
A member of the Minnesota Vikings for the past eight seasons, the last time Barr became a free agent in 2018, he was the subject of a controversial decision to spurn the New York Jets to stay with the team who drafted him. This time around, Barr hasn’t generated much interest.
For one, teams may have durability concerns about the 30-year-old linebacker who’s missed 19 games in his past two seasons, while others may be worried about his effectiveness when he is healthy. Barr used to have freakish athleticism along with his high IQ, making him effective in all aspects, against the run, in coverage, and rushing the passer. He hasn’t done any of the three particularly well as of late.
Yet, Barr still provides glimpses here and there of his elite play, such as when he intercepted Matthew Stafford twice a season ago against the Los Angeles Rams.
The point is, several teams could still benefit from signing Anthony Barr this offseason. Here are three possible free agency destinations for the former UCLA star.
Anthony Barr boosts Las Vegas Raiders linebacking corps
Even though the Las Vegas Raiders may currently be content with Denzel Perryman as one of their starting middle linebackers, Jayon Brown could likely be improved upon. Divine Deablo, their 2021 third-round pick is currently breathing down Brown’s neck, but Anthony Barr would take the starting gig from day one.
- Anthony Barr stats: 72 tackles, 3 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 3 INT, 2 FR in 2021
Signing Barr would give the Raiders more versatility inside, as he can be utilized in a number of ways. Perryman holds his own in run defense, racking up 154 combined tackles a year ago, whereas Barr can be better at covering zones over the middle of the field, while still mixing in as a blitzer. Although Barr has yet to play in a 3-4 defense, his athleticism and intuition should allow him to fit in with any scheme.
Dallas Cowboys bring another Pro Bowl linebacker aboard
The Dallas Cowboys are actually one of the few teams who have been linked to Anthony Barr already, although it was nearly a month ago, and he’s yet to sign anywhere else. Yet, the Cowboys also haven’t made any significant additions to their front seven since.
Barr is a great fit for Dallas because they have one phenomenal linebacker who can do it all in Micah Parsons, but he may be best when pinning his ears back and getting after quarterbacks. Leighton Vander Esch used to be elite, but his performance hasn’t lived up to his name since 2018.
Like Vander Esch, Barr could use a career rejuvenation of sorts, but unlike the former, Barr’s ineffectiveness doesn’t have anything to do with serious neck injuries of the past like Vander Esch has suffered through.
Barr’s addition to the Cowboys allows defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to put his defensive playmakers in the best position to succeed. For Vander Esch, if that means subbing him out in passing situations, then so be it, Barr can step in.
Los Angeles Rams take a flier on California native Anthony Barr
One thing Anthony Barr hasn’t been able to do with the Minnesota Vikings is win a Super Bowl ring, as their postseason success has been limited. Barr likely wants to find a situation where he can win, because at this stage in free agency, a big paycheck isn’t coming his way.
The Los Angeles Rams can offer a strong chance at not only reaching the postseason but also winning what could be Barr’s first experience with a Lombardi Trophy.
A California native, Barr would likely love the chance to play back in his home state, and if that means joining a defense featuring Aaron Donald, Bobby Wagner, and Jalen Ramsey, then so be it. He could be in for the most fun season of his life, or at least be part of a dominant defense again, even if he’s not signing up for a featured role, at first.