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Anthony Barr on why he spurned the Jets: 'I knew that in my heart it didn't feel right'

4/14/2019 4:37:03 PM
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Linebacker Anthony Barr told his agent to accept a deal with the New York Jets, an offer that would pay him an average of $15 million per season for five years. Instantly, the former first-round pick and four-time Pro Bowler regretted his decision, Courtney Cronin and Rich Cimini of ESPN report.

Less than 24 hours later, Barr's agent told the Jets his client would not accept their offer after all and, instead, would return to the Minnesota Vikings. For far less money.

"Because of the money, he was going to have to test free agency," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. "We knew he was going to get more than we could pay him. It shows to his loyalty, what he thinks about ownership, team, organization. It's very rare that guys do that."

"It's like everything else in free agency. Until they technically sign, you don't truly know what will happen," Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan said. "I'd say simply with Anthony -- to me, it's part of free agency. We felt good about going after him. We targeted him. We felt good when we actually had the agreement in place."

Barr's decision to change his mind is somethig that's not uncommon. Players have backed out of verbal agreements before because nothing is official until binding documents are signed. In fact, this wasn't the first time the Jets lost out to the Vikings in free agency. In 2004, the Jets courted cornerback Antoine Winfield for two days before he agreed to a six-year, $30 million contract with a $10 million signing bonus. Winfield was in the Jets' building (on Long Island at Hofstra University) when former Vikings coach Mike Tice heard what was going down and sent for a private jet to pick up Winfield at Republic Airport, about 25 minutes from the facility. Winfield left the building without signing, and the rest is history.

For Barr to leave the amount of money he did on the table in the prime of his career isn't something players often do. While most bolt toward free agency and their next big payday at full speed, Barr ran in the direction that felt right.

He chose comfort over chasing paper, finding solace in remaining in a defensive system in which he thrives, with a coach who has fought for him and in a locker room where he's beloved as a core part of the franchise.

"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," Barr said.

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