Dallas Cowboys: Anthony Barr likely the odd man out at LB

(Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
(Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) /

When the Dallas Cowboys signed former Pro Bowler, Anthony Barr, to a sweetheart deal this summer, Cowboys Nation rejoiced. The Cowboys were thin at the LB position and were unsuccessful in many of their offseason “haggles” up to that point.

Barr’s signing was especially significant for the potential deployment of Micah Parsons. Parsons, Dan Quinn’s most critical weapon, was part-time pass-rusher, part-time off-ball linebacker. How much he plays of each could have been determined by need, and if the LB ranks ran too thin, he might be taken from his most impactful role (you guessed it, pass-rusher).

So whether you’re happy with his play of not, you probably owe Barr a portion of gratitude because his presence allowed Parsons to be the beast that he is.

We now see a situation in which Anthony Barr isn’t quite as needed, and the Dallas Cowboys could make him the odd man out.

What has changed?

A couple things:

  1. Jayron Kearse has returned to the fold
  2. Damone Clarke has begun his 21-day activation window.

As we discussed a couple days ago, the Dallas Cowboys are rich, RICH, in safety talent. They have two safeties already which rank in the NFL’s top-7 and their best one yet, Jayron Kearse, is on the way back this week.

Dan Quinn has shown he’s happy, if not eager, to replace a linebacker with safety Jayron Kearse. And Kearse happens to be a general on the field and one of Quinn’s favorite players. So we should expect Kearse to replace a LB almost immediately. Current LB hierarchy tells us Leighton Vander Esch is ahead of Barr in the pecking order. So if one of the top-2 LBs get replaced it’s going to be Barr.

Next we have Damone Clark entering the fold. Clarke was a 1-2 round pick before he flunked his medicals prior to the 2022 Draft. He’s an all-around prospect who has elite starter potential. He might not claim a role now, but he represents the future at LB for Dallas.

The Dallas Cowboys want to get him snaps as soon as humanly possible which means he’s claimed a role player job the first day he’s active. Jabril Cox is also someone the Cowboys want to get regular snaps so they can develop into a starter. Cox and Clarke are the expected starters in 2023, so Dallas is committed to them now.

Depth linebacker have to be special teams players or developmental players. Players like Luke Gifford and the other two guys. Barr is not a special teamer (0% ST snaps in Dallas). He’s insurance on defense.

In order to keep Micah Parsons doing all his brilliant things, the Cowboys need true linebackers playing true linebacker roles. Barr is still a great signing, even if he’s the odd man out. Injuries are inevitable at this ultra-physical position and having a veteran like Anthony Barr is priceless. Veterans like him don’t need practice or game reps, they’re good to go and best kept fresh.

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Chances are, Anthony Barr will be the guy who stands to lose the most when the reinforcements arrive, but he’s been a valuable player and will continue to be valuable as the season goes on.