DALLAS — The front office for the Dallas Cowboys has continued to tell anyone who will listen that they’re in the talent acquisition game 365 days per year. To avid followers of the team, those words ring hollow. The Cowboys are annually one of the quietest teams in free agency each offseason.
Yet seemingly each summer, once training camp rolls around, the Cowboys will identify a need and make a veteran signing. Two years ago, it was defensive end Everson Griffen, last season it was safety Malik Hooker, and this year’s addition is linebacker Anthony Barr.
Before the signing, Dallas had a noticeable lack of depth at LB, so specifically targeting Barr was a move that many had been calling for. Bringing in the former first-round pick from UCLA made too much sense for a deal not to get done.
The Cowboys liked Barr coming out of college and he might have been their pick in 2014 had he been available, but they never got that opportunity. Barr was selected ninth overall by the Minnesota Vikings and has been with the team for the past eight seasons.
There were other suitors for Barr, but in the end, he chose the Cowboys because of his relationship with senior defensive assistant George Edwards – a former coach with the Vikings – and the desire to play for defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.
The one-year deal for Barr at $2 million that can max out at $3 million is a smart signing for the Cowboys and perhaps their best offseason acquisition.
Linebacker was one of the weakest positions on the roster and the team couldn’t afford to go into the season with just three legitimate options, one of which is a second-year player, Jabril Cox, who is coming off a major injury, and another, Leighton Vander Esch, is a player who has a hard time staying healthy. Barr’s presence was needed.
Now, pairing Barr with Cox, Vander Esch and star LB Micah Parsons gives the Cowboys a strong group at LB and provides the team with depth in case of injury or ineffectiveness. Barr’s addition also provides Quinn the freedom to move Parsons around and use him as a pass rusher more.
Now in his ninth season, the veteran LB gives the Cowboys a little bit of everything. Barr can play the run, has 17.5 career sacks, five career interceptions, and eight career forced fumbles.
The Cowboys now have three solid coverage linebackers in Parsons, Cox and Barr, which helps in a passing league. Injuries have limited Barr’s previous few seasons, but the Cowboys would be hard pressed to find a better LB still available.
With Barr now in Dallas, it gives the defense three flexible pieces for Quinn to deploy to keep offenses off-balance. Parsons, Barr, and safety/LB Jayron Kearse are all part of the equation at linebacker and can be moved to create advantageous matchups.
Not all of the Dallas linebackers will be needed on the field at the same time, but Barr allows the team the ability to rotate through the group and keep players fresh. Now, an injury doesn’t hurt the position as it would prior to Barr’s arrival and shouldn’t alter the effectiveness of the defense.
Dallas signed Anthony Barr to bring some much-needed depth at LB. He will begin his tenure on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list as he works his way into playing shape and gets a better read on the Dallas defense, but he also has an opportunity to be a veteran leader at the position and help bring more versatility to the defense. The Cowboys had a hole at LB and by signing Barr, the team has one less thing to worry about.
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