The 2020 NFL offseason has been anything but cozy for Minnesota Vikings fans. Not only did the franchise have to part ways with seven starters who had become regular household names — including Stefon Diggs — in the Mike Zimmer era, but now the security at running back is also in jeopardy.
General Manager Rick Spielman will likely have to continue to piece together a team that’s been hamstrung by its veteran contracts and minimal salary cap space — which isn’t a bad thing. The Vikings have the pieces to win in the next few years and keeping one particular player next offseason will be vital to keeping those chances alive.
Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox listed a player from all 32 NFL franchises whose teams “can’t afford to lose” them in the 2021 offseason. Safety Anthony Harris was Knox’s choice for the Vikings. Harris signed a one-year franchise tender and will be an unrestricted free agent next season.
Here’s his case extending Harris’ contract:
Originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of Virginia in 2015, Harris has worked his way into the starting lineup and has become one of the top safeties in the NFL. Though he has never made the Pro Bowl, he did lead the NFL in interceptions this past season, snagging six of them to go with 60 tackles and 11 passes defended.
Keeping the 29-year-old safety in the fold will be important as Minnesota is in the process of revamping its secondary. Cornerbacks Mackensie Alexander, Trae Waynes and Xavier Rhodes all departed this offseason.
The Vikings cannot let Harris do the same next offseason.
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A Fixture in the Vikings Secondary
After the exodus of all three starting cornerbacks from last season, Zimmer is starting fresh with a young group that’ll need to come along quickly. Harris and fellow starting safety Harrison Smith give the Vikings secondary a fixture to build around in the upcoming years.
The duo has consistently been ranked as the top safety tandem in the NFL and gives the defense veteran experience and versatility. Harris, the ball-hawking free safety offers one of the best coverage presences in the NFL, while Smith has remained one of the best box safeties in disrupting opposing offenses. Smith is signed through 2021 and will likely renew his contract and retire with the Vikings — meaning securing Harris long-term could lead to a promising future for the Vikings defense.
Harris is unlikely to receive a new deal with the Vikings needing to pay running back Dalvin Cook this offseason. Harris will make $11.4 million this year on his franchise tag, meaning he will likely be expecting a similar annual salary in future negotiations.
The good news is other than Harris and Cook, the Vikings don’t have many imperatives player contracts expiring in 2021 as the team can assess its future with a clearer view after maneuvering through many changes this offseason.
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