Vikings Target Anthony Harris’ Replacement
The Minnesota Vikings will showcase a team next season that is entirely without Anthony Harris for the first time since 2014. That was the season Mike Zimmer took over the franchise, so for about 86% of Zimmer’s tenure, Harris was a part of the team in some capacity.
Harris joined the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday via one-year deal for $5 million. He will turn 30 years old this season, and the back half of his career will commence in the City of Brotherly Love. The same path unfolded for former Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo when he left the franchise in 2019. Sendejo departed for the Eagles, returned to the Vikings, then headed off to the Cleveland Browns.
Sendejo is currently a free agent.
Now, the Vikings need a new free safety. Some fans held out hope that Harris would reverse course and return to U.S. Bank Stadium for 2021 – but no cigar. The Vikings do not have a startable free safety on the roster at the time of this article’s publication.
And that’s probably why the Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling has now linked Eagles free safety Will Parks to the Vikings.
Anthony Harris is off to Philadelphia at the same time Keanu Neal is likely heading elsewhere. The #Vikings have been in contact with Will Parks about coming to Minnesota, but they’re also tight against the cap at the moment. https://t.co/G5PNFRfKC1
— Ben Goessling (@GoesslingStrib) March 20, 2021
In a comical turn of events, this would effectively be a swap of Harris for Parks. Although, Parks will be more affordable. To date, Parks is not as prolific on the field as Harris.
To be blunt, Parks is a pretty good safety. As in — “ok.” With the Denver Broncos for 4.5 years and the Eagles for one-half of a season, he did not brush up against Harris-like production. Parks has tallied four interceptions in 72 career games.
However, in head coach Mike Zimmer’s scheme, Parks could thrive. Other men – next to Harrison Smith on the field – have encountered unfamiliar success. See: Sendejo and Harris.
Parks was at the peak of his powers in 2018. He played about half of all snaps for the Broncos and notched a noteworthy 74.0 Pro Football Focus grade. That would be dandy inside Zimmer’s defense.
His career PFF scores are as follows: 50.8 (2016), 52.1 (2017), 74.0 (2018), 57.7 (2019), and 57.5 (2020).
Vikings Would Provide First True-Blue Starting Job
If Goessling’s foreshadowing materializes, Parks would be a bonafide starting free safety for the first time in his career. That has not happened to date. Parks was always “stuck” behind Justin Simmons in Denver – a Pro Bowl defender with a knack for hauling in interceptions.
Parks would land the big job and benefit from the performances of his peers – Harrison Smith, Patrick Peterson, and Cameron Dantzler.
In 2020, Parks was a slightly better run-defender than coverage asset. But prior to 2020, he was the inverse – a coverage guy that was a bit less efficient in run-stopping. In Zimmer’s system, he will be asked to perform both tasks – with more emphasis on pass coverage as the Vikings interior defense is fairly stacked to stop running backs.
Interestingly, Parks has never played more than 60% of all defensive snaps in a season. For the first time in his five-year career, he’d get a workhorse feel if the Vikings bring him aboard.
At age 26, he is worth the price and upside.