Eagles Starter Addresses Safety Void After Inking 1-Year Contract

Anthony Harris

Getty Eagles safety Anthony Harris inked a one-year deal worth $2.5 million to return to Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Eagles are running it back with one-half of their safety tandem from the 2021 campaign. Veteran Anthony Harris inked a one-year deal worth $2.5 million (via Spotrac) to return for his second season in midnight green. It was an expected move considering the team’s lack of depth at the safety position.

Harris knows the system having played under Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon in Minnesota. That was one reason for his desire to return to Philly. The other? Well, the 30-year-old just looked around the locker room and liked the culture, especially when looking at the new pieces the team brought in. Guys like Haason Reddick and A.J. Brown, as well as rookies Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean.

“For me, just taking a look at all the pieces here — a lot of talent, being in the locker room, seeing the personalities,” Harris told reporters when asked why he wanted to return. “The players there, building those relationships, not only with the players but with the staff. Being in the city, being in the stadium, just the environment and how it’s competitive. Everybody is just focused on wanting to win and the passion that not only the players share but the staff and the city is something I wanted to continue to be a part of.”

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Harris Knows What Marcus Epps Can Bring

Harris will walk right back into his role as the starter while the Eagles ponder what to do next to him. Rodney McLeod left in free agency which opened up a roster spot. The leading candidate to take it is Marcus Epps, with K’Von Wallace likely getting a shot at training camp.

There had been chatter of them signing Tyrann Mathieu before the New Orleans Saints handed him $28.3 million over three years. They didn’t. And Harris remains focused on helping the entire defensive backs room.

“I’ve just been trying to help guys grow and continue to develop on and off the field,” Harris said, “and trying to be a mentor when I can and paying it back.”

Epps and Harris were brief teammates on the Vikings in 2019 so he understands how hard the sixth-rounder works. He plans to help mentor him — a new role Harris is happy to embrace with McLeod gone — and show him the ropes, although Epps might not need too much help coming off a strong showing last season.

Epps saw 505 defensive snaps in 2021, the most of his three-year NFL career. And the veteran safety finished with 63 total tackles along with one interception and five pass breakups in 16 games (3 starts).

“He’s remained the same player [from Minnesota],” Harris said. “Young, has a lot of ability, always focused, always paying attention to what the coaches are saying. Regardless of how much he’s playing he’s always up on the gameplan. He’s always knowing the assignments and then just watching him work, being very detailed in what he’s doing, and just being hungry for the opportunity.”

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Influences of Harrison Smith, Linval Joseph

The influences of veteran safety Harrison Smith and defensive tackle Linval Joseph helped shape Harris during his time in Minnesota. He saw those two guys as leaders on the Vikings’ defense and he tries to take bits and pieces from them to guide the way he mentors guys in Philadephia.

“Just pumping that hunger mentality,” Harris said. “And, for me, it’s just about not being worried about the next guy but just trying to be the best individual player you can be and knowing that’s enough and understanding the nature of the beast. It’s really just, focus on the moment — not worry about any of the outside stuff, just enjoying playing the game and worrying about getting better each game.”

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