Vikings don't use franchise tag, Anthony Barr likely to become free agent

Barr can become a free agent on March 13.
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The NFL's deadline to use the franchise tag on players has passed and the Minnesota Vikings didn't tag anyone. 

That means linebacker Anthony Barr will likely become a free agent when the new league year begins March 13. Minnesota could sign him to a new contract, but ESPN's Courtney Cronin doesn't expect that to happen

Minnesota has just over $5 million salary cap space and tagging Barr would've cost approximately $15 million. Signing him to a new deal would likely run at a price of $12-15 million annually, according to Cronin. 

Assuming Barr is gone, the Vikings need to find a replacement.

Eric Wilson will likely have a chance to win the job out of training camp, and he might be the easy frontrunner unless Minnesota finds a good deal in free agency or finds a gem in the NFL Draft. 

Cronin mentions former Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright, and he's ranked right behind Barr as the fourth best available free-agent linebacker by Pro Football Focus

"Wright may be the most intriguing player on this list, simply for the fact that he hasn’t truly had a bad season in eight years with the Seattle Seahawks. With no season grades below 65.0, Wright’s consistency sticks out in the best way possible. Wright has never had more than three penalties in a season and has only had double-digit missed tackles in one. Despite missing a large chunk of 2018 with an injury, the 2011 fourth-round draft pick should easily find a home in the middle of someone’s defense in 2019."

The Vikings still have a ton of core players left from what's been a solid defense, including Danielle Hunter, Linval Joseph, Everson Griffen, Eric Kendricks, Xavier Rhodes, Harrison Smith and last year's first-round draft pick, Mike Hughes. 

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Vikings don't use franchise tag

The deadline to apply the franchise tag to players in the NFL passed on Monday, and the Minnesota Vikings declined to use the tag. A couple of big name players who otherwise could have been free-agents, were tagged. Among them: Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker, Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and Titans safety Michael Griffin.