Sometimes in life, there are things more important than money. That was the case for Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr when he turned down the New York Jets this offseason in order to remain where he belongs.
Barr, a five-year NFL veteran, became a free agent after the 2018 season. Barr finished the season with 55 total tackles, three sacks, and two pass break ups. For his efforts, the former UCLA star was named to his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl.
A stalwart on the Vikings defense, Barr was coveted by many teams in free agency. When the free agency period began on March 11, the Jets were able to offer Barr a deal that would pay him an average of $15 million per season. The Jets were second only to Indianapolis in the amount of salary cap space available. The Vikings, unfortunately, did not have the same luxury.
When the Jets made the offer to Barr, Minnesota knew there was no way they match the offer. There was also no chance of placing the franchise tag on Barr. The price of the tag would have come in at roughly $15.8 million, which the Vikings could not afford.
Barr, who made just over $12 million last season, told his agent Ryan Williams on that Monday, March 11, that he would take the Jets' five-year deal worth $15 million per season. Then, Barr began to have second thoughts.
On the morning of Tuesday, March 12, Barr was in limbo. He was not sure he made the right decision. The Vikings had drafted Barr with the ninth overall pick in the 2014 draft. He had played his entire NFL career in Minnesota for head coach Mike Zimmer. Barr had helped Zimmer and the Vikings become one of the league's top defensive units. Minnesota had won two NFC North titles and has been to the postseason twice during Barr's tenure.
Sensing something just wasn't right, Williams called his client early Tuesday morning. Ultimately, Barr wanted to be happy and what made him happy was being a Minnesota Viking. Williams agreed that happiness was more important than an extra $10 or $15 million in the last couple years of a contract. The two hung up the phone and Barr waited.
Fifteen minutes later, Williams called Barr back and congratulated him. He was still a Viking, and a very rich one at that. Minnesota worked out a deal for Barr that will pay him $67.5 million over the next five years. Barr received a signing bonus of $13 million and received $33 million in guaranteed money. He will average $13.5 million per season over the life of the deal. And, be much happier.
Sometimes, loyalty is more important than money.