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Why Anthony Barr is a strong fit for the Washington Commanders

Andrew Buller-Russ

The Washington Commanders are kicking off their training camp on July 27. Chances are, general manager Martin Mayhew and Ron Rivera already feel much better about their roster heading into the 2022 season. Yet the head coach also recently mentioned a desire to add another veteran linebacker before camp, and there have been rumors linking the team to Anthony Barr as of late.

The addition of Carson Wentz, along with getting multiple healthy contributors back on both sides of the ball, likely point to a better year than their 7-10 finish last season.

But as both Mayhew and Rivera know, you’re never truly done building or shaping the roster in the NFL. Putting together the best 90-man roster is the name of the game right now.

Which leads us back to one of the top remaining free agents available and former Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr. Having received very little interest since becoming a free agent, Barr’s market appears to be heating up, and he’s expected to land with a team with training camps getting underway.

As far as whether the Commanders make sense for Barr? Any Washington football fan will tell you they’re not 100% confident in their linebackers this season, which, considering coach Rivera was a great former linebacker himself, their current depth probably leaves Rivera shaking in his boots, if that’s possible. But here are the specific reasons why Barr can help the Commanders in 2022.

Related: 3 Washington Commanders trade targets before training camp

Anthony Barr solves lack of LB depth for Commanders

NFL: Washington Football Team Minicamp
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Commanders have what should be an elite defensive line, led by Chase Young’s resurgence now that he’s back to 100%. While the group as a whole remains unproven, they feel moving from box safety Landon Collins to a stronger defender in coverage with Bobby McCain improves their defensive backfield, which is likely a good bet.

This leaves the linebacker group as the lone weakness that’s largely been ignored this offseason. Jamin Davis oozes potential, but he needs to be more consistent as he enters his second season. Still, a 6-foot-4 linebacker who can sprint the 40-yard dash in 4.48 seconds, it’s not hard to see why the Commanders took a chance on him with the 19th pick in 2021.

After finishing 10th in the NFL in combined tackles, Cole Holcomb has proved to be a tackling machine, but behind, or even next to Davis and Holcomb exists very little proven depth.

While his very best days may be behind him, Anthony Barr is a four-time Pro Bowl linebacker entering his age-30 season and has 98 starts under his belt. He’s drawn his own fair share of criticism over the years, most recently for his lack of durability as he’s missed 20 games over the past two seasons.

  • Anthony Barr stats in 2021: 72 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3 interceptions, 5 pass deflections in 11 games

It’s true that Barr didn’t grade his best last season with the Vikings, according to Pro Football Focus, but he’s still an upgrade over both Davis and Holcomb in most areas.

PFF gradeAnthony BarrJamin DavisCole Holcomb
Overall grade62.946.856.7
Run defense54.248.661.8
Pass rush72.357.556.1
Coverage62.948.753.8
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Focus

At his best, Barr brings a high IQ, plenty of experience and adds another versatile, athletic linebacker to the rotation. The Commanders couldn’t do much better at this stage of the offseason. He might even be able to help Davis learn the finer points of the game as he continues to adjust to the next level as Barr once did as a similarly athletic freak coming out of college.

Related: 3 Washington Commanders players poised for a breakout year in 2022