The veteran linebacker’s time with the Minnesota Vikings might be ending soon.
When it came time for the Minnesota Vikings to make their first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, a number of the team’s fans were hoping that the organization would use the selection on a brand new quarterback.
So when it was announced that the Vikings were using the ninth overall pick in the 2014 draft on former UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, there was certainly a bit of an underwhelming reaction from some of those who root for the team.
Two seasons into his NFL career, however, it felt like Barr was proving to be worth his high draft selection. But since 2016, his level of play has flatlined a bit and some of Minnesota’s fans continue to wonder why he is the fourth-highest paid player on the team’s roster this year.
Anthony Barr could be heading into his final season with the Minnesota Vikings
Thanks to the impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a legitimate possibility that the NFL salary cap is going to endure a reduction for the 2021 season. If this ends up being the case, the Vikings are probably going to have to part ways with some of their highest-paid players.
Due to his lucrative contract, Barr is among those who could be on the chopping block next year. If Minnesota were to trade or release the linebacker before June 1 of 2021, the team would free up over $7.5 million in cap space.
The Vikings would have to make this decision fairly early in the 2021 offseason though since $7.1 million of the $12.3 million base salary Barr is currently scheduled to make next year will fully guarantee on the third league day of 2021.
Of linebackers who play primarily in a 4-3 defensive scheme, Barr’s average salary is the third-highest in the NFL right now. Good luck finding a ton of people who believe Barr is the third-best 4-3 linebacker in the league heading into this season.
When Minnesota drafted the veteran linebacker out of UCLA, all anyone ever talked about was his ability to rush the passer. Barr displayed some of these skills during his first two years with the Vikings, but he struggled to generate much of a pass rush in his next four seasons.
Aside from his lack of sacks or quarterback pressures, he still has plenty to offer as a linebacker in Minnesota’s defense. Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer is one who seems to always be the first in line to defend Barr whenever someone asks what makes him so valuable to the team.
It’s not a crazy statement to make that Barr’s ability to pressure the opposing quarterback in college was a big reason why he was selected so high in the 2014 draft. So if those abilities haven’t translated to the NFL level, then why should Minnesota continue to pay him more than the majority of the players on their roster?
With the addition of Dom Capers to the defensive coaching staff this year, perhaps the Vikings will finally be able to help Barr re-discover his pass-rushing skills during the 2020 season. But if he goes out and just performs similar to how he has during the last four years, don’t be surprised if Minnesota decides to move on from him in 2021.