Written By Sam Ekstrom (ZoneCoverage.com)
Photo Credit: Brian Curski
In a shocking turn of events, Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr reportedly backed out of a verbal agreement with the New York Jets and intends to re-sign with the Vikings, as first reported by NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.
With the Vikings already low on salary cap space, the team will need to get creative to pay Barr a multi-year salary worth around $13.5 million per year, according to The MMQB’s Albert Breer. A report from the Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling indicates the Vikings may attempt to restructure Everson Griffen’s contract to open up the cap space.
This comes as a surprise for several reasons. For one, the Vikings entered free agency as one of the most cap-strapped teams in football. Even after parting ways with Andrew Sendejo and Mike Remmers on Monday, they only possessed around $9 million after tendering contracts to RFAs Anthony Harris and Rashod Hill and signing defensive tackle Shamar Stephen to a three-year deal.
Furthermore, the Vikings had failed to come to an agreement with Barr despite negotiating for much of last offseason. Head coach Mike Zimmer had voiced his desire to have Barr (his first-ever draft pick) return, but he also conceded that the size of the contract could stand in the way when he spoke at the NFL Combine. Minnesota let the franchise tag deadline pass without tagging Barr, which could’ve brought the linebacker back on a one-year, $15.8 million deal.
If Tuesday’s reports are accurate, it would appear Barr and the Vikings each had a change of heart that enabled them to find common ground.
With Sheldon Richardson leaving for the Cleveland Browns, Barr’s impending departure would have left two holes on the Vikings defense. His last-second 180 keeps the unit’s core intact and may quickly heal any fissures there might’ve been with the organization.