Anthony Harris

Vikings’ Anthony Harris To Play On One-Year Deal

Vikings safety Anthony Harris will play out his one-year tender, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). The sides are still talking, but the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson notes a deal is a “long shot” as the deadline nears (Twitter link). Per the franchise tag rules, the two sides will have to wait until next year before resuming extension talks. 

Harris took his time, but he eventually signed his one-year, $11.4MM tag. There was never a real threat of a holdout, though Harris was eager for a pay bump.

The advanced metrics position Harris as one of the league’s very best safeties and the market has advanced significantly in recent years. He graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 1-ranked safety last season, a campaign during which he intercepted six passes. A long-term extension for Harris would likely pay him upwards of $14MM per year, in line with the position’s salary leaders.

Minnesota will carry Harris’ lofty tag figure and Harrison Smith‘s $10.75MM cap number on its books this season. With Smith remaining the centerpiece of the Vikings’ secondary, it seems likely the Vikings will need to address his deal — which has fallen from first to 11th over the past four years. It remains to be seen if the Vikings will revisit extension talks with Harris next year. This will be the breakout performer turned 29 in June, so his next negotiations — with the Vikings or another team — will come just ahead of his age-30 slate.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Status Of All 15 Tagged Players Prior to July 15 Extension Deadline

The clock is ticking for tagged players to sign extensions with their teams, per the league calendar.

July 15: At 4:00 p.m., New York time, deadline for any club that designated a Franchise Player to sign such player to a multiyear contract or extension. After this date, the player may sign only a one-year contract with his prior club for the 2020 season, and such contract cannot be extended until after the club’s last regular season game.

With less than nine days remaining until the deadline, let’s take a look at where each of the 15 tagged players stand.

Already Signed Tag

*Received transition tag (vs. franchise tag)

Haven’t Signed Tag, Won’t Hold Out

Haven’t Signed Tag, Threatening Hold Out

Anthony Harris Signs Vikings’ Tender

Done deal. On Sunday, Vikings safety Anthony Harris announced that he will sign his franchise tender (Twitter link). 

Although it has been a strange offseason, time spent in isolation with family has been refreshing and energizing. This is just one step in god’s plan for me and my family,” Harris wrote. “I will let my agents and the Vikings work towards long term certainty in Minnesota, but I am excited to be back for the 2020 season.”

Harris, 29 in June, tallied 60 tackles and eleven passes defended in 2019, plus six interceptions (tied for the NFL lead). Beyond that, the advanced metrics have positioned him as one of the league’s best safeties over the last two years. He’s now hoping to parlay that success into a major payday for the remainder of his prime seasons.

The franchise tag for safeties this year pays $11.4MM. That’s not chump change, but there are now five safeties in the league making upwards of $14MM per season. Naturally, that’s what Harris and his reps are eyeing in a new contract.

The Vikings have been keen on keeping their brightest stars. They’ve also overhauled their secondary this offseason, moving on from cornerbacks Xavier RhodesTrae Waynes, and Mackensie Alexander, plus safeties Jayron Kearse and Andrew Sendejo. Still, the Vikings have rejected trade inquiries on Harris, kept him with the tag, and backed him publicly.

I know we have some big changes in the secondary,” Spielman said earlier this year. “One of the things — not only is Anthony Harris a great football player for us, and great in the community — but by us being able to franchise Anthony, we do have the safeties pretty well set, knowing that we’re going to have a lot of young corners we’re going to have to line up and play with.”

Per the terms of the franchise tag, the two sides have until the July deadline to hammer out an extension. If no deal is reached by then, they’ll have to wait until after the 2020 season to resume talks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Anthony Harris In “No Rush” To Sign Vikings Tag

Anthony Harris is in “no rush” to sign franchise tag, according to a source who spoke with Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press (on Twitter). The Vikings and the safety have until July 15th to hammer out an extension, and Harris is gunning for long-term security. Tomasson hears that some talks could take place before the draft gets underway on Thursday night, but it’s unlikely that anything will be hashed out soon.

[RELATED: Percy Harvin Eyes NFL Return]

Harris, 28, was tagged back in March, but many figured that he would be a tag-and-trade candidate. That still remains a possibility, but GM Rick Spielman claims Harris is very much in their plans for 2020.

I know we have some big changes in the secondary,” Spielman said this week, referencing the departures of Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, and Mackensie Alexander. “One of the things — not only is Anthony Harris a great football player for us, and great in the community — but by us being able to franchise Anthony, we do have the safeties pretty well set, knowing that we’re going to have a lot of young corners we’re going to have to line up and play with.”

Either way, safety is on the Vikings’ to-do list this weekend, because they need to find support for Harris and Harrison Smith.

According to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics, Harris has been a top-five safety in each of the last two seasons, including exceptional coverage grades last year. Between 2018 and 2019, he’s totaled nine interceptions, 17 passes defended, and 106 tackles.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Pursuing Anthony Harris Extension

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.

AFC North Notes: Browns, Ravens, Steelers

The Browns have long been mentioned as the primary suitor for Redskins left tackle Trent Williams, and while no trade is on the immediate horizon, Williams does remain an option for Cleveland, as Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. At the moment, Washington is asking for too much in trade compensation, while Williams is demanding too expensive an extension. If either of those prices drops, the Browns could make a move for a (much-needed) new blindside protector.

Here’s more from the AFC North:

  • While the Browns are still considering Williams, Vikings safety Anthony Harris –= whom Cleveland has reportedly considered in trade — is no longer an option for the Browns, per Cabot. Minnesota apparently wants at least a third-round pick in order to part with Harris, while the 28-year-old defensive back would want a new deal to supersede his franchise tag. Instead of pursuing Harris, the Browns signed free agent safeties Karl Joseph and Andrew Sendejo.
  • Franchise-tagged edge rusher Matthew Judon is not close to reaching a new deal with the Ravens, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. Judon will earn $15.828MM in 2020 if he sticks on the franchise tender, but he was reportedly asking for $20MM annually earlier this year, per Zrebiec, who adds that asking price may have since come down. The 28-year-old Judon played 80.8% of Baltimore’s snaps last season and posted a career-high 8.5 sacks.
  • Steelers defensive lineman Cameron Heyward has been eyeing an extension since at least January, and according to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the 30-year-old should receive a new deal “soon.” Heyward, is set to earn $9.5MM and count for ~13.25MM on the Steelers’ salary cap in 2020. An extension would give Heyward more immediate cash but likely lower his cap charge for next season.

Browns Exploring Trade For Vikings S Anthony Harris

The Browns are exploring a trade for Vikings safety Anthony Harris, reports Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. It would take at least a third-rounder to get a deal done, “and probably a second.”

The 28-year-old was slapped with the franchise tag on Monday, but there were whispers that the Vikings were going to try to tag-and-trade the defensive back. Harris is set to make $11.44MM next season. As Cabot points out, the Browns have the ammo to get a deal done. The team currently owns one second-rounder (#41) and a pair of thirds (#74, #97).

Harris has a natural connection to Cleveland, as he played under Browns pass game coordinator and defensive backs coach Jeff Howard in Minnesota. Browns head coach (and former Vikings offensive coordinator) Kevin Stefanski is also familiar with the long-time Vikings safety.

The former undrafted free agent has evolved into a starter in Minnesota, as he started a career-high 14 games in 2019. He finished the campaign with 60 tackles, 11 passes defended, and six interceptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings To Place Franchise Tag On Anthony Harris

Monday morning’s tag mania continues. A 13th team will use its tag. Less than ten minutes before the deadline, the Vikings will deploy their tag on safety Anthony Harris, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. It will cost the Vikings $11.4MM to use this tag.

[RELATED: Vikings, Cousins Agree To Extension]

Harris was not viewed as a tag candidate, instead being set for free agency as one of the market’s top defenders. Now, he’ll be tethered to Minnesota’s payroll. The Vikings’ cuts of Xavier Rhodes and Linval Joseph, and their Kirk Cousins extension, helped create cap space to make a Harris tag possible.

Harris and Justin Simmons were the consensus top two options at the safety position, but the Broncos whittled that down recently by applying the franchise tag to their star in the secondary. Harris, a proven vet, has ranked among the league’s best safeties in his time with the Vikings. Understandably, the Vikes didn’t want to let him get away.

According to the advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus, Harris has been a top-five safety in each of the last two years. Between 2018 and 2019, he’s totaled nine interceptions, 17 passes defended, and 106 tackles.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC North Notes: Harris, Kwiatkoski, Kearse, Kilgo

The Vikings secondary was one of the most inconsistent parts of their defense last season, but safety Anthony Harris remained a star amidst an inconsistent supporting cast. While Harris is set to become a free agent, Minnesota fans should be happy to know that he has a positive view of the Vikings. In an interview on Sirius XM, Harris stated, “I love the organization.”

Here are a few more notes from the NFC North:

  • The Bears organization has seen linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski progress into a legitimate contributor since he was selected in the 4th round of the 2016 draft. However, Dan Pompei of The Athletic, reports that after signing fellow linebacker Danny Trevathan to a three-year extension, Chicago appears prepared to let Kwiatkoski leave the organization via free agency.
  • Vikings impending free-agent defensive back Jayron Kearse took to Twitter on Friday and said he does not want to return to the team. A pair of Vikings fans were engaging in common social media speculation about the various ways Minnesota could approach the offseason. When one argued that they thought Jayron wanted to stay in the twin cities, Kearse jumped in and said, “No jayron doesn’t want to come back.”
  • Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports Lions nose tackle Darius Kilgo will soon be cleared to return to action from the quadriceps injury that cost him all of last season. Pelissero further notes that Detroit has no intention of resigning Kilgo, but it’s obviously ideal for Kilgo to be back to health before entering the open market. Of course, teams would likely want to see Kilgo workout in person, but the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak could make teams more tentative to give Kilgo any guarantee if they are unable to see him in person.

POLL: Who’s The Best Free Agent Safety?

As free agency inches closer, we’ll continue previewing the impending market. One of the most interesting comparisons surrounds the safety position.

Anthony Harris and Justin Simmons are the consensus top two options at the position, but determining which should is the best option for a team in need of a new safety is a more difficult proposition. Harris, has been an established and proven veteran, while Simmons jumped to the top of the pack this year.

Harris, at 28, has ranked among the league’s best safeties in his time with the Vikings. Per Pro Football Focus (PFF), Harris ranked among the five best-graded safeties in both 2018 and 2019. Over the past two seasons, he’s nabbed 9 interceptions, recorded 17 passes defended, and 106 tackles.

While Simmons does not have the longevity and track record of Harris, the Bronco graded as the 2nd best safety this season, per PFF, receiving a 90.8 grade. Simmons recorded 4 interceptions, 15 passes defended, and 93 tackles this season alone, but never graded above 80.0 prior to this season.

Most compelling to his case, at just 26 years old, Simmons could be poised to be one of the best centerfielders in football, but will teams want to gamble on that over Harris’ proven track record?

There are a number of other solid options at safety including Jimmie Ward and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, but neither combine the health history and top end recent performance of Harris and Simmons.

Which safety do you prefer? Let us know in the poll below.