Linebacker Anthony Barr spent his whole NFL career with the Minnesota Vikings. He was the first draft pick of the Mike Zimmer era in 2014. The former UCLA star was the ninth overall pick. No other Vikings pick was higher since Zimmer became the head coach of the purple team.
Barr played 98 games for the Vikings and started all of them. He racked up five interceptions, eight forced fumbles, 17.5 sacks, and 495 combined tackles. Three hundred thirty-five of them were solo tackles. He also added 39 tackles for loss and 44 quarterback hits. From 2015 to 2018, Barr went to four Pro Bowls.
He was one the most important players of the Zimmer defenses, handling the linebacker duties, for the most part, with his college teammate, Eric Kendricks. In 2020, Barr missed almost the full season after tearing his pectoral muscle. Knee problems plagued his 2021 season. The problems are believed to be serious and put his career in jeopardy. Now, Barr found a new home in Dallas, as he agreed to a deal with the Cowboys. Multiple people around the NFL broke the news.
The Cowboys love their linebackers. He’ll play next to fellow linebacker Micah Parsons, who drew some Barr comparisons in his pre-draft process. The star defender was one of the most disruptive forces in the NFL during his rookie year, and he earned first-team All-Pro honors and went to the Pro Bowl. Parsons also won the defensive rookie of the year trophy.
Revenge Game in 2022
Barr won’t have to wait long to return to U.S. Bank Stadium. The Cowboys come to town on November 20th and face the new-looking Vikings team. He’ll play against plenty of familiar faces, despite the regime change. His partner in crime since college days, Eric Kendricks, is still the man in the middle of the Vikings’ defense. Next to him will play free agent signing Jordan Hicks.
He’ll also meet another former Viking in Dallas. Former Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards is a Senior Defensive Assistant for the Cowboys. He was Barr’s defensive coordinator for six years, between 2014 and 2019. Interestingly, during Barr’s best stretch before injuries slowed him down.
Some fans of the Vikings always wanted to see the linebacker in a pass-rushing role. He certainly has the requisite body type. When he played for UCLA, he did just that. In his junior and senior seasons, he totaled 23.5 total sacks and added outstanding 41.5 tackles for loss.
The Vikings, however, used him as an off-ball linebacker. While he struggled in coverage, he was a dominant player at the line of scrimmage with frequent run stops and pressures on pass-rushing downs.
Barr Joins Good Defense
Likely, he won’t play an every-down role for the Cowboys, which should help him keep his knee issues in check. The Cowboys’ defense is expected to be a strong unit. In 2021, Dallas allowed just 21.1 points per game, the 7th best in the NFL. The Vikings allowed four more points per game.
Parsons is one of the best players in football, while Trevon Diggs, the brother of former Vikings receiver, Stefon, is a true ball hawk in the defensive backfield. He got beaten deep because he tried to jump routes but still totaled 11 interceptions. If he can limit the big plays, he can be another dominant player.
One safety spot is obtained by former Vikings player Jayron Kearse. He couldn’t consistently crack the lineup in Zimmer’s defense but had a great 2021 season in Dallas. DeMarcus Lawrence plays the defensive end spot and is one of the better players at that position.
It will be interesting to see how the Cowboys will use the former Vikings standout. He isn’t the dominant force anymore but has some juice left to make a significant impact for the Cowboys and a difference in the NFC playoff picture.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt