When the agent for Vikings free agent linebacker Anthony Barr got on the phone to tell his client about a five-year, $75 million deal with the Jets, it was supposed to be a celebration.
But Barr didn’t see it that way, with immediate hesitation that led him to back out on the deal a day later and return to the Vikings.
Agent Ryan Williams told ESPN that he could sense Barr’s lack of enthusiasm over what appeared to be a winning lottery ticket.
“He said, ‘I feel like I just made the worst mistake of my life,'” Williams said.
Because the negotiations happened during the tampering window, Barr couldn’t sign anything anyway until Wednesday. So after the Jets made their offer, which seemed agreed upon, Barr’s second thoughts led his agent to ask the Vikings for a last-ditch chance to keep one of their defensive cornerstones, which came in that Monday night. Tuesday would be decision day.
“I was up for all morning, just looking at my ceiling, just looking for a sign,” Barr said. “Talking to everybody, trying to figure something out. . . .
“I was trying to convince myself of something I knew that in my heart didn’t feel right, and I think if you follow the heart, I can live with the results.”
It’s not that Barr’s doing poorly with the Vikings, signing a five-year deal with $67.5 million, with $33 million in guarantees. It’s $1.5 million a year less than he’d have made in New York, but that didn’t stop a family celebration that included margaritas, tacos, and tears.
“It happened the minute he said I’m going to go back [to Minnesota],” his mother Lori said. “There were tears. It was pure elation — relief, appreciation, feeling valued, feeling reconnected. Just a range of emotions but mostly just sincere happiness that he was getting to go back to where he got to start it all and be with the people he loves to be with, with the organization, in a city he really enjoys and has now become his second home. It just really made waiting and not knowing worth it.”
The Jets said they understood the business, and wanted guys who were all-in. And the Vikings benefitted from the time built into the system, for Barr to realize the place he was all-in was the place he already was.