But Dallas finally made a big move on Wednesday, signing veteran linebacker Anthony Barr. Earlier in the day, the Cowboys waived linebacker Aaron Hansford, so the roster is at its maximum capacity of 90 players at this point in the preseason.
The deal was reported by Mike Garafolo, who also said Barr was between Dallas and the Denver Broncos. But the Cowboys have George Dennis as a defensive assistant on the coaching staff, and Dennis previously served as the Minnesota Vikings’ defensive coordinator. Garafolo said this was a selling point for Barr to join the Cowboys.
Barr is a four-time Pro Bowler who has spent all eight of his NFL seasons with the Vikings. The South Bend, Indiana native is a jack of all trades: he’s a skilled run stopper, can drop in coverage and rush the QB. He even had three interceptions in 2021. In his first seven seasons, he only had two total interceptions.
One thing that’s concerning about Barr is his age. The 30 year old missed 14 games in 2020 and six games in 2021 due to injury. The UCLA alumni’s health was a big factor in the Vikings’ decision to let him walk in free agency.
How the Barr signing impacts the Cowboys defense
Dallas has been thought of as the perfect landing spot for Barr by many media members this offseason. Barr has been considered the perfect fit because if he stays back in coverage and focuses more on run stopping, it would allow Parsons to put all his energy into rushing the passer.
But Parsons appeared on 105.3 The FAN last week and said that’s not at all what he wants to do:
“I think once I start losing my speed I’ll go to the edge. But right now I’m just having so much fun doing everything. That’s the matchup that I like because I can find a one-on-one. Right now, if I just play truly edge, it’s easy to leave a back over there to chip, it’s easy to slide protection. But being able to move around and be that fifth guy, still be able to drop, still be able to play man coverage out of the backfield. That’s what makes the chess match, that’s what makes the teams actually have to scheme versus just playing regular edge. I’m having too much fun at linebacker. I’m just having fun playing football, let’s just put it like that.”
Training camp practices should be telling of how the Cowboys plan to utilize Parsons and Barr together on this now strong linebacking core.