Instant analysis: Eagles sign former Vikings S Anthony Harris

NFL: DEC 15 Vikings at Chargers
LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 15: Minnesota Vikings Safety Anthony Harris (41) raises his right hand during an NFL game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Los Angeles Chargers on December 15, 2019, at Dignity Health Sports Park in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Kiyoshi Mio/Icon Sportswire)

After missing out on John Johnson, the Eagles appear to have their man. Former Vikings Safety Anthony Harris is set to join the team on a one-year deal worth $5M according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Here’s everything you need to know.

Harris has spent his entire career in Minnesota after signing with them as an undrafted free agent in 2015. His rise to prominence was a gradual one, but a season with 60 tackles and 11 passes defensed in 2019 was enough to finally put the cherry on the cake.

Minnesota then placed a franchise tag on the 6’1, 202 lbs, safety, meaning he played the 2020 campaign with an $11.4M cap hit. He lived up to the price. A stunning 104 tackles ranked third on the team as did his 7 passes defensed.

The Vikings were unable to reach an agreement for a long-term extension last offseason and after trade rumors surfaced in the run-up to last year’s draft, his future always looked to be in jeopardy. The good news for the Eagles is that they’re getting an absolute steal of a player on an affordable deal.

The fit

More importantly than anything else, Harris has a direct connection to Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, having worked under him for three years.

Harris has grown into one of the better coverage safeties in the NFL. He has fantastic range and his click-and-close ability makes him a menace when forcing himself down into the box to meet running backs and tackle squarely.

Perhaps even more impressive is his combination of fluidity and ball-skills. Harris reads the game well and will rarely be caught stuck in the mud, while his frame and athleticism mean he can track deep balls and speedy receivers with ease, ensuring he’s in a good spot to make a play.

In cover-2 looks, having Rodney McLeod and Anthony Harris over the top could be absolutely menacing. Harris would fit the ‘Malik Hooker‘ role perfectly, allowing McLeod to play down in the box as he’s done so more regularly over the past two years.

The Eagles also won’t need to spend valuable draft capital at Safety, knowing that McLeod can play in the box while Harris can rein over the top, which was a concern after the team lost Jalen Mills and Rudy Ford to free agency.

This also takes pressure off of guys like K’Von Wallace and Grayland Arnold, allowing them to develop without being thrown into the deep end right away. They could learn a lot from Harris.

In terms of a bigger picture, he’s likely going to be competing head-on with Rodney McLeod, who is of course recovering from his second ACL tear. The Eagles remain high on McLeod, but his durability continues to hold him back from retaining his cornerstone status. Harris will want one last payday as he enters his thirties and a prove-it deal here is a great way to build out the resume.

It’s hard to view this signing as anything other than a total steal. For a team strapped for cap space, finding a way to bring in a premium safety is impressive. Howie Roseman may catch a lot of flack, but he can still put together some impressive offseason moves in a pinch.

Photo by Kiyoshi Mio/Icon Sportswire