March 31st, 2020 at 5:43pm CST by Sam Robinson
Linked to being a tag-and-trade candidate early in free agency, Anthony Harris now appears likelier than not to suit up for the Vikings again. The expectation is for the franchise-tagged safety to play in Minnesota in 2020, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.
The Vikings had dangled Harris in trades for a return as low as a late-round pick, but Tomasson notes they are now discussing an extension for the breakout defender. Harris would welcome a Minnesota re-up but wants to be one of the league’s highest-paid safeties, Tomasson adds.
Minnesota already employs one of the NFL’s highest-paid players at this position, with Harrison Smith still tied to the five-year, $51.25MM deal he signed in 2016. Devoting extensive cap space to two safeties is out of the ordinary, but Tomasson notes the Vikings now view keeping Harris as key for its defense’s success.
While the Vikings have valued continuity, building their defensive core for years through pricey extensions, they have seen many pieces of its defense stripped away this month. They released Xavier Rhodes and Linval Joseph and will not re-sign Everson Griffen. Minnesota also is starting over at corner, having seen Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander defect to Cincinnati. Safeties Jayron Kearse and Andrew Sendejo also left for Detroit and Cleveland, respectively. Keeping Harris may be more important now than it was at free agency’s outset.
Pro Football Focus graded Harris as one of the NFL’s best safeties over the past two years. He will turn 29 this summer, making his next contract critical for his earning potential. The 2020 safety tag is worth $11.4MM, but five safeties now earn north of $14MM per year. It is also possible a new Harris deal would prompt Smith to seek a raise, given his 5-0 Pro Bowl edge on his safety sidekick, but nothing is known on that front yet.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.