Expert Takes: Why Barr Feels So at Home with Minnesota Vikings

The grass isn’t green here yet, but at least it’s visible.

It also isn’t always greener elsewhere.

That was somewhat of a recurring theme among media members — some of which have spent extensive time in Minnesota and others who have come here sporadically — this week at the NFL’s Annual League Meeting when Vikings.com asked about Anthony Barr choosing to stay in Purple for reportedly less money than what was offered by the Jets.

Barr, the native of Southern California, spoke about how Minnesota has become a home to him and the brotherhood he enjoys in the Vikings locker room.

“Just his personality, the fact that he loves it in Minnesota, he likes playing in this system – you’re talking about taking him out of the market, going to New York to play in a different type of defense, playing really a different role as sort of a 3-4 type of an edge player than he would have been before,” NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero said. “To come home, it was obvious there was angst the moment that he signed the deal and decided he wanted to be in Minnesota.

“I’ve talked to multiple people around the Vikings who said that when he came back into the building … with a contract with the Vikings, he was more excited about that than anybody had seen him,” Pelissero added. “Just because this was the moment he had envisioned. His mom came in, he was all dressed up, he wanted to meet with everybody, I mean, this was a big moment in his life and in his career.”

ESPN’s Courtney Cronin also mentioned system fit where Barr has been an impact player in Mike Zimmer’s 4-3 defense since 2014, the first season with the Vikings for the first-round pick and head coach.

“I think you take a look at the first factor, which is how much money he reportedly passed up to remain in Minnesota. It shows you that it’s not always a money grab … sometimes it’s a system,” Cronin said. “I think this shows you a lot of reasons why guys want to play for Mike Zimmer. This is kind of the epitome right here. This is his first draft pick he ever made in Minnesota as a head coach, a stand-on-the-table type guy, and to be able to retain those players, I think it’s a big thing.

“[General Manager] Rick Spielman talks about it all the time,” Cronin added. “The Vikings want to be able to get the players they have drafted, they want to take them to that next contract, especially with Anthony Barr despite some 11th-hour negotiating, cap magic work by [Executive Vice President of Football Operations] Rob Brzezinski. I think that’s something that shows you guys can see their defensive potential at its fullest. Not just Anthony Barr, but Everson Griffen coming back on a restructured deal shows you they know what they have here. Sometimes it’s better to stay in a system you’re more comfortable with than going after other ancillary things.”

SiriusXM’s Adam Caplan has covered enough free agency periods to know to expect the unexpected. He noted that signs were pointing toward Barr capitalizing on his first foray as a free agent.

“It’s interesting – had you asked me at the combine if he’d be back, I would have said, ‘Probably not.’ Well, it sure looked like that when he had verbally agreed with the Jets and changed his mind,” Caplan said. “This happens in every free agency, generally with 1-3 players. I’ve reported on these players in the past, specifically Frank Gore, where we’ve told people they were going to go somewhere, but they didn’t sign a contract, and they changed their mind, and there’s that saying, ‘Home is where the heart is.’ There’s no doubt about it. … That’s part of free agency. It’s not just signing someone else’s players; it’s re-signing your own players, which is absolutely huge.”

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said he was not surprised that Barr reconsidered “because this is a place the players like, it’s a place the players come where they know they can win – they’re going to have a shot every year. It’s a really well-managed roster, team, locker room. It’s just a good place.

“I think even though he took less money, he was very happy to be home,” Rapoport added.

NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, who broke the news that Barr was reconsidering a return to Minnesota, said retaining Barr is a “great keep” for the Vikings.

“I think he’s going to wind up playing more comfortably in the defense than maybe what the Jets would have asked him, probably shoehorn him into being a pass rusher,” Garafolo said. “Which he can do, but [in] his role in Minnesota, he’s going to get to continue to do that, as well.”

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