Instead of extending the young linebacker in the near future, the Minnesota Vikings should consider finding a trade partner for him.
After extending Eric Kendricks on Monday, the Minnesota Vikings now have decisions to make on four remaining key players going into contract years in 2018 (Stefon Diggs, Anthony Barr, Danielle Hunter, and Trae Waynes).
Of course with the Kirk Cousins signing too, it’s likely impossible to be able to retain the services of all four players after next season.
Looking ahead, if you have to lose one of the four players, Barr should be the guy. In fact, the best move to make for the future of Minnesota would be to trade the linebacker.
Either before or during the upcoming draft for additional 2018 draft picks or before the trade deadline for additional 2019 draft picks.
The Vikings are expected to be title contenders heading into 2018 and rightfully so. With that said, it is only responsible to keep at least one eye open while looking toward the future of the franchise.
Looking at the New England model for reference, Bill Belichick may be the best ever at not just winning, but also consistently having title contending teams for the last decade and a half.
Yes, he’s had the fortune of having arguably the greatest quarterback of all-time. But what should not be overlooked are the constant trades of expensive players within the supporting cast in exchange for productive younger players and/or draft picks (all of which are cheaper) to keep the Patriots’ engine going for the long haul.
Wash rinse and repeat.
Take linebacker Jamie Collins for example. Collins, in the middle of the final year of his rookie contract in 2016, and coming off of a Pro Bowl season, was traded away by New England to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for a third-round pick.
Knowing that Collins would command serious money in free agency that they had no interest in gauging, the Patriots acquired a valuable asset instead of letting him walk for nothing.
And while New England lost a Pro Bowl linebacker, they still ended up winning the Super Bowl that year anyway.
Rick Spielman and the Vikings should take a page from the Patriots’ book and trade Anthony Barr, assuming the price is right that is.
Take away the name and think of the game. Say you have the choice to retain three of the four notable pending free-agents, all of which will require significant money long term.
Here are your choices:
- A top 10 wide receiver with premier route running ability, lightening speed and also happened to be number one in the NFL in contested catch percentage last season. Not to mention, in a league where typically the quarterback makes the receiver, this player has a resumé of putting up incredible numbers despite whoever is throwing him the ball.
- A number two corner who has shown consistent progress and holds his own for a position that is one of the most difficult to replace.
- A monstrous defensive end that is just tapping into his prime.
- An outside linebacker who has Von Miller potential, but has had consistent question marks on his effort levels following his rookie season. Not just from the fans, not just from the head coach, but also from the man himself. In fact, too often you have to remind yourself that he’s actually on the field.
Because of his constant disappearing acts, you would think it’d be wise to move on and not commit large amounts of money to such a player.
If that is the case then it only makes sense trade him and get valuable assets back for the betterment of the franchise, especially since there are likely other teams who would fight for Barr’s services in free agency.
After Barr’s rookie year, you could’ve made the argument that he was the engine that made the defense go. That is no longer the case. In fact, the key players on this Vikings’ defense like Kendricks, Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith are locked in to future contracts.
If you’re still wondering how the Vikings defense would manage without Barr, the answer to that is head coach Mike Zimmer.
He has shown the ability to not only get the best out of his players (when they put the effort in), but to also identify talent that he can harness and utilize for his defense.
The bottom line is, with Cousins making $84 million guaranteed, there is little room for error with the salary cap.
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There is no doubt that if Barr goes into 2018 without an extension on a contract year, he will presumably play with a chip on his shoulder and have an incredible season. Having said that, can he be trusted to carry that over once he gets that hefty deal?
If Minnesota elects to not trade Barr, then just two choices remain.
Option one has the Vikings signing him to a big contract and hoping that he decides to show consistent effort moving forward while letting either Waynes, Diggs or Hunter go. Or option two, in which Minnesota lets him walk for nothing.
Neither of which benefit the future of the Vikings.
Minnesota one of the best general managers in the league. They also have a head coach who can identify talented defensive players.
The Vikings may not necessarily win the Super Bowl this year, but, like the Patriots in 2016 with Collins, Minnesota will be just fine without Barr.