In taking less from Vikings, Barr earns Greenway’s praise
MINNEAPOLIS -- Four-time Pro Bowl linebacker Anthony Barr took less money when he spurned the New York Jets to return to the Minnesota Vikings, and that impressed former teammate Chad Greenway.
The Vikings announced Wednesday, March 13, that they have agreed to terms with Barr, who gets a five-year, $67.5 million contract. That’s an average of $13.5 million, less than the average of about $15 million he could have received from the Jets.
“It says a lot for anyone to have that perspective that whoever pays me the most money isn’t necessarily where I want to be,’’ said Greenway, who played for the Vikings from 2006-16 and was named to two Pro Bowls. “And you know that you’re getting a motivated player that wants to come and win a championship and do it for the right reasons.’’
Wednesday marked the first day of the NFL’s new league year. The Vikings also announced they have agreed to terms with defensive tackle Shamar Stephen, who gets a three-year, $12.45 million deal in returning to the team he played for from 2014-17.
Barr, who made $12.3 million last season, had reportedly agreed as a free agent Monday to sign with the Jets before changing his mind Tuesday. His contract includes a $13 million signing bonus, $33 million in potential guarantees and could be worth as much as $77.5 million with incentives.
With the Vikings having money issues, Barr agreed to a back-loaded contract that has just a $5.6 million salary cap hit for 2019. He will make a base salary of $2.9 million and has a $100,000 workout bonus.
The Vikings also backloaded the contract of Stephen, who returns as a free agent after playing last season with Seattle. Stephen has a cap number of just $2.33 million for 2019, having gotten a $4 million signing bonus with a first-year salary of $900,000 and a $100,000 workout bonus.
Barr and Stephen will officially sign their contracts Thursday and meet with the media.
The two deals leave the Vikings with roughly $2.35 million of cap room. But they will need to carve out plenty more for a number of moves they still need to make.
The Vikings need help on the offensive line, a kicker, backups at quarterback and running back and wouldn’t mind additional depth at linebacker even with the re-signing of Barr. They could use another defensive tackle after the loss of Sheldon Richardson in free agency to Cleveland. Stephen is expected to take over for Richardson, but reliable backup defensive tackle Tom Johnson is a free agent.
Cap room could be carved out if the Vikings restructure the contract of defensive end Everson Griffen, whose 2019 base salary of $10.9 million is on the books to become guaranteed Friday. The Vikings have approached Griffen about a possible restructuring.
The Vikings also could trade cornerback Trae Waynes, whose 2019 salary of $9.069 million became guaranteed Wednesday. CBS Sports reported last month that trading Waynes was a possibility, and NFL Media reported Wednesday it still could happen.
For now, though, at least the Vikings are getting Barr back for a team that has finished in the top four in the NFL in total defense for three straight seasons, including first in 2017.
“I think it says he knew where he wanted to be, and he really wanted the Vikings to come up to a (salary) range where he felt good about the number and obviously they needed to feel good about the situation because they have multiple people to get under contract and (have) limited salary cap in some cases,’’ Greenway said.
“For Vikings fans, you get to cheer for somebody that you emotionally have been tied with for five seasons, that has done an amazing job and you just want to continue to build on that, and hopefully he’s one of us for a long time.’’
Greenway kept in touch with Barr by text during the free agency process. He’s hopeful that Barr, who joined the Vikings in 2014, will remain with them his entire career.
“I’m selfish in the fact that I want him in our community and the impact he can make,’’ said Greenway, also making note of Barr’s off-the-field work. “I’m hopeful he can play out his whole career career here.’’
Barr will be under contract through 2023. He is in line to have cap numbers of $12.7 million in 2020, $15.5 million in 2021, $15.6 million in 2022 and $18.1 million in 2023. Barr’s incentives include money he can earn for sack totals between 2020-23.