When the 2019 season ended, it was expected that safety Anthony Harris saw his final action as a member of the Minnesota Vikings. Harris entered free agency after tying for the NFL lead with six interceptions and was expected to be a hot commodity. The Vikings surprised the NFL world when they placed the franchise tag on Harris, however, and on May 17 he finally signed the tender. With Harris locked in for the 2020 season, Minnesota can now count on the experience of their two safeties as the defense was overhauled during the off-season.
Minnesota Vikings Get Stability in Secondary With Return of Anthony Harris
A Top Safety Tandem
With Harris’ return, the Vikings bring back a player whose production and skillset complement Pro Bowl safety Harrison Smith. Minnesota uses Smith all over the field, lining him up near the line of scrimmage to wreck offensive gameplans. This allows Harris to play more freely on the back end of the defense, which in turn helps lead to his habit of being around the football.
New Faces in the Secondary
The departure of the team’s top three cornerbacks from the past four seasons makes Harris more valuable than ever in 2020. Minnesota heads into the season with talented but unreliable cornerbacks in Mike Hughes and Holton Hill along with first-round rookie Jeff Gladney. Head coach Mike Zimmer has his hands full with those three, so with Harris coming back Zimmer has one less player to worry about.
Harris not only brings experience, but he also knows how to work his way up the depth chart. The second-longest tenured player in the secondary entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2015. Between special teams and holding his own in limited playing time, Harris knows what Zimmer expects.
A Chance for a Long-Term Deal
Harris will play the 2020 season for the Vikings. However, it is expected that the team will try signing Harris to a long-term deal before the July 15 deadline for players who have been franchise tagged to sign an extension. Although Harris will be playing his sixth season in 2020, he still doesn’t have much tread on the tires. He has only been a full-time starter for a season-and-a-half.
The unlikeliness of Harris’ return will be welcomed on and off the field. Highly respected within the organization and in the community, Harris’ impact in 2020 will be more important than ever as the team will field at least five new defensive starters.