ESPN: Anthony Barr would bring needed veteran experience to Cowboys LB corps

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Cowboys fans are hoping that patience is a virtue that pays off for their team before the 2022 season begins. The Dallas front office mostly sat on their hands for the wildest free agency period in recent memory, watching big-name talent bounce around the league as massive paychecks followed.

Stephen Jones has said that the team was “not done yet” in free agency, perhaps waiting until after the draft to add a veteran at a post-frenzy price. And now that the compensatory pick deadline has passed, the Cowboys could grab a remaining free agent without giving up a middle-round draft pick in the future.

Bill Barnwell of ESPN has sifted through the free agent pool to find a good home for ten of the most notable veterans out there, and he sees Dallas as a perfect match for four-time Pro Bowl linebacker Anthony Barr.

Barr was the ninth overall pick by Minnesota in the 2014 draft. The UCLA alum started 98 games for the Vikings, compiling 495 tackles, five interceptions, eight forced fumbles, 17.5 sacks, and 31 passes defensed along the way.

But now Barr, 30, is an unrestricted free agent, available to sign with any team that offers him a deal.

Writes Barnwell:

“In 2019, the Jets signed Barr to a five-year deal in the $70 million range amid rumors that they were going to turn the linebacker into an edge rusher. Barr backed out of the deal and re-signed with the Vikings, but while he saw occasional reps on the edge, the Vikings didn’t unleash Barr as a pass-rusher. He racked up four sacks over three seasons while missing 22 games, most notably with a torn pec in 2020.

“Now that he’s a free agent, what if a team took a chance on using Barr in more of a hybrid role? We saw the Cowboys unlock something truly special from Micah Parsons by using their 2020 first-round pick as both an off-ball linebacker and an edge rusher a year ago. Barr isn’t Parsons, but after Dallas lost Randy Gregory this past offseason, Barr would give the Cowboys another eligible rusher who is also capable of playing a more traditional linebacker role.

“Barr and Leighton Vander Esch would each be leverage against the other’s injury history, and senior Cowboys defensive assistant George Edwards served as Barr’s defensive coordinator between 2014 and 2019.”

The Cowboys are encouraged by their current linebacker corps, but there are indeed uncertainties at the position. Second-year man Jabril Cox had a promising start last season as a rookie, but is now coming off an ACL tear. Damone Clark out of LSU could prove to be a fifth-round steal, but may not play at all in 2022 as he rehabs from spinal fusion surgery. After Parsons and Vander Esch, there’s just Luke Gifford, Devante Bond, and sixth-round selection Devin Harper.

Safety Jayron Kearse is expected to take on some linebacker duties in a hybrid role, but some experienced depth in the middle level would be a significant and welcome addition to Dan Quinn’s defense.

And now the price may be right.

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