Things keep getting busier as we move to the official start of the league year. The Vikings have been involved in a number of deals since yesterday’s piece, both directly and indirectly. Here is the latest update for Vikings free agency news.
Anthony Barr Flips on Jets, Returns to Vikings
Linebacker Anthony Barr has been a cornerstone of Mike Zimmer’s defense since becoming Zimmer’s first draft pick in 2014. His versatility as an off-ball linebacker has been one of the Vikings’ greatest assets for years. Some speculated Barr could earn a bigger payday elsewhere as an edge rusher. And Tuesday, that appeared a done deal. Barr was reportedly in line to sign a lucrative deal with the Jets, and expectation was he would have gone back to his college days as a pass rusher. But in a twist, Barr walked back on his verbal deal with New York. Instead, the four-time Pro Bowler will return to the team that drafted him and will remain off the ball.
Barr’s deal is expected to be worth $67.5 million over five years, $33 million guaranteed, and with incentives that would push the deal to $77.5 million. Tom Pelissero tweeted that the Jets were offering more money, in the $14-15 million range whereas Barr’s Vikings deal amounts to $13.5 a year. Whether it was the the nature of the franchises or the familiarity with the system and coach, it is clear now that Barr was leaning Minnesota should the money be close to equal. When the Vikings upped their offer, Barr chose to stay home.
The question now is how the Vikings plan to make room for Barr’s deal. It appears more likely that one of Trae Waynes or Everson Griffen may have to be moved, or at least have their contracts restructured. Ben Goessling tweeted that the team sent a restructured offer to Griffen. Should he decline, he will probably be on the move.
Vikings Out on Top Two Interior Linemen
Barr’s re-signing essentially closed the door on Minnesota’s role in the offensive line market. When free agency opened, Matt Paradis and Rodger Saffold were the marquis names for the Vikings to potentially pursue. Alas, both have chosen other homes. Paradis will join the Carolina Panthers on a three-year $27 million deal and Saffold is expected to sign with the Titans for $22.5 million over four years.
Latavius Murray to the Saints
Though Latavius Murray indicated his desire to become a feature back again, he instead chose to leave the Viking for a similar situation in New Orleans. The Saints are signing Murray for four years, $14.4 million to essentially serve the role alongside Alvin Kamara that Mark Ingram is leaving behind. Murray will be the primary downhill runner while Kamara offers the dynamic dual threat ability. Like with Dalvin Cook in Minnesota, however, Murray is likely to cede the majority of touches to Kamara.
Sheldon Richardson to the Browns
Sheldon Richardson is making a habit of joining loaded lines lately. After a strong 2018 season, his lone year in purple, Richardson will sign with Cleveland for $36 million over three years. He will become part of a talented young group with the Browns, including Myles Garrett, Larry Ogunjobi and soon-to-be-acquired Olivier Vernon.
Shamar Stephen Coming Back
In less splashy Vikings news, they are now expected to bring back defensive tackle Shamar Stephen. Stephen spent his first four years in the league in Minnesota, starting all 16 games in 2016 and serving regularly in the rotation in 2017 before joining Seattle last season. He started 14 games with the Seahawks, recording to two sacks.
With Richardson gone and Tom Johnson likely to join him, Stephen could be in line to return to his former starting role. The Vikings are reportedly signing him for $12.45 million over three seasons with $6 million guaranteed. That would be a bargain deal for a starting three-technique. However, given his relatively modest production as a pass rusher, Minnesota could still look to add a bigger threat inside. It seems right now, however, that would most likely happen through the draft.
–Sam Smith is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Vikings and Deputy Editor for Full Press NFL. Like and Follow @samc_smith.
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