Former Standout Viking Suddenly Available as Free Agent

PurplePTSD: Anthony Harris News, Power Rankings, Duke Shelley Kudos
Dec 15, 2019; Carson, CA, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive back Anthony Harris. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports.

After one season with the Philadelphia Eagles, former Minnesota Vikings safety Anthony Harris was released on Tuesday as all NFL teams reduced rosters to 53 players.

The Eagles offloaded Harris after a trade with the New Orleans Saints, landing safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. Thereafter, Harris was evidently expendable.

A member of the Vikings for six seasons, Harris rose to prominence in 2018 and 2019. He entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2015 — near the dawn of the Vikings Mike Zimmer era — and wiggled up the depth chart. Next to Harrison Smith, Harris developed into a starting safety, even leading the NFL in interceptions during the 2019 campaign.

Dec 23, 2019; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Anthony Harris. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

Harris played 81 games for Minnesota, starting 47 and accruing 284 tackles and nine picks. With Smith at his side, Harris became a dependable defender, one fans lamented losing when he hit free agency in 2021.

While the Vikings do not have a roster need at safety — Smith, Camryn Bynum, and Lews Cine should do the trick — Harris is likely to latch onto a roster before the regular season begins. Here’s his Pro Football Focus resume to date:

  • 2015 = 78.1
  • 2016 = 52.8
  • 2017 = 74.3
  • 2018 = 89.0
  • 2019 = 90.5
  • 2020 = 66.2
  • 2021 = 61.6

The Eagles release of Harris saved $1.1m in cap space. And, put bluntly, they didn’t need the extra safety help when Gardner-Johnson joined the depth chart.

Jan 5, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive back Anthony Harris (41) intercepts a pass interned for New Orleans Saints wide receiver Ted Ginn (19) as Minnesota cornerback Trae Waynes. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook -USA TODAY Sports.

Teams’ depth charts are mostly set after Tuesday’s 53-man roster trimdowns, but Harris could sign with a squad like the Detroit Lions or New York Giants who could stand to get a little richer in the secondary.

Harris will turn 31 in October. He played more games for the Vikings than Ben Leber, Keith Millard, and Wade Wilson.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

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