Anthony Barr isn’t going anywhere, Vikings value him too much

(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Anthony Barr
(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Anthony Barr /

Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr has been recently mentioned as a possible salary cap casualty this year.

On the clock to make their first draft selection since Mike Zimmer was hired to be the team’s head coach, the Minnesota Vikings decided to use their top pick in the 2014 NFL Draft on former UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr.

Barr had a high draft value back in 2014, thanks mostly to his pass-rushing abilities. While he hasn’t developed into a sack machine since entering the NFL, the Vikings defender has evolved into one of the most complete linebackers in the league.

Minnesota’s defense was embarrassingly bad in 2020, and much of their lack of success had to do with the fact that Barr wasn’t on the field for the majority of the season due to a torn pectoral muscle.

Will Anthony Barr remain with the Minnesota Vikings for the 2021 season?

Recently, KSTP’s Darren Wolfson reported that Barr is unwilling to renegotiate his current contract to create additional cap space for the Vikings this year. For the 2021 season, the Minnesota linebacker is scheduled to have a cap hit of about $15.06 million.

With linebacker Eric Wilson hitting free agency this year, some have been wondering who the Vikings should keep as their other starting linebacker next to Eric Kendricks for the 2021 season.

When Barr went down with a torn pectoral muscle last year in Week 2, Minnesota co-defensive coordinator Adam Zimmer shared why the veteran linebacker has been so important to the success of the team’s defense during the last few seasons.

"“No. 1, he is really good at getting everybody lined up on the defense. He calls the huddle, he gets everybody set. He helps Kendricks immensely as far as setting the front, setting the pressure, and everything we do defensively. So that’s critical No. 1 and No. 2, he’s outstanding in coverage. I know some people might look at Pro Football Focus grades and stuff, but they really don’t know what we ask him to do and he is always one of our highest-graded guys in terms of pass defense.”"

So as much as some might have enjoyed Wilson making the occasional “splash” play in 2020, his impact on the success of the Vikings defense is nowhere close to Barr’s.

Cutting Barr this year would free up a little more than $7 million for Minnesota. While that might seem worth it to some, especially since the Vikings are in desperate need of creating cap space, that amount is not enough to justify getting rid of someone who the coaching staff clearly views as one of the backbones of the defense.

Perhaps Minnesota looks to part ways with Barr if they decide to move on from Mike Zimmer after the upcoming season. But as long as Zimmer continues to be the Vikings head coach, it’s hard to imagine the team’s defense not having Barr as one of their two starting linebackers.