Dallas Cowboys

How Anthony Barr Fits on the Cowboys' Defense

Barr is expected to free Micah Parsons to rush the passer more frequently this season

Anthony Barr #55 of the Minnesota Vikings waves to fans in the stands fan as he walks off the field after a 31-17 win over the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium on January 09, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Stephen Maturen | Getty Images

Shortly after Wednesday's press period ended, the Dallas Cowboys announced the signing of former Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr to a one-year deal.

Barr was present at Cowboys Training Camp in Oxnard, California, Thursday morning and completed a physical, making the signing official. He will initially be placed on the PUP list as the team ramps him up for the season.

Barr is an eight-year veteran and four-time Pro Bowler who head coach Mike McCarthy believes will be "an excellent fit" on the Cowboys' defense.

McCarthy went on to describe the former Viking as "another excellent player on and off the ball" that "gives [the team] a lot of flexibility."

According to McCarthy, Barr's experience at the linebacker position gives defensive coordinator Dan Quinn the freedom to utilize star LB Micah Parsons more as an edge rusher.

On Wednesday, Quinn spoke a lot about Parsons and how he helped transform a Cowboys defense that performed rather poorly in 2020.

"The better a team plays, the more they are studied," Quinn said. "We want to make sure we're not just putting him into one spot," Quinn said of Parsons.

The signing of Barr, a capable pass rusher in his own right, gives Quinn more flexibility and will likely prevent offenses from keying on Parsons every time he lines up as a defensive end. Barr will also step in as the obvious veteran of a young linebacking group and share the expertise that landed him on four All-Pro teams from 2015-2018.

Other Defensive Storylines in Oxnard

  • Creating more turnovers: The Cowboys led the NFL in forced turnovers for a second straight season last year with 34. However, Dan Quinn thinks his unit can do more. "One of the goals I have for our team this year is to force and recover more fumbles," he said Wednesday. Quinn and McCarthy have been including hand skills drills at the beginning of each practice in an effort to improve the team's forced fumble total of 13 last season.
  • Markquese Bell: Through just over a week of practices, the undrafted safety from Florida A&M is making a strong case for a roster spot. Bell fits Quinn's role as someone who can play multiple positions. While listed as a safety, Bell primarily played linebacker in college but was signed as a safety. "What I've seen from him so far is someone that can handle multiple roles, I feel like he has the speed and length to play at two spots," Quinn said.
  • Sam Williams: Williams, Dallas' second-round selection is expected to get a lot of snaps at defensive end this season in the absence of Randy Gregory. "I've seen a lot of what I saw in college, I see speed [and] power," Quinn said. As is a theme on defense, Williams is going to be used at multiple spots along the defensive front. The Cowboys DC thinks the rookie is up to the challenge.
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