EAGAN, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings just might keep Anthony Harris after all.
Though there has been speculation the Vikings might trade Harris after placing the franchise tag on him two weeks ago, sources said Tuesday, March 31, the team has been actively discussing a possible long-term contract with the 28-year-old safety.
One source said there is an increased belief now that Harris, ranked the NFL’s top safety in 2019 by Pro Football Focus, will play for the Vikings in 2020, whether it is with the franchise tag of $11.441 million or a long-term deal. A source said Harris’ preference is to sign a long-term deal.
Such a deal not only could keep Harris happy and lock him up beyond 2020, it also could lower his salary-cap number for 2020, with the Vikings able to push some money into future seasons. Harris wants a contract that puts him among the highest-paid safeties in the NFL. That could be an average of about $14 million per season.
The Vikings already have Pro Bowl safety Harrison Smith on the books for cap numbers of $10.75 million in 2020 and $10.25 million in 2021. While having two safeties taking up a good bit of cap room might not be ideal, a source said the Vikings are thinking more now that not having Harris would be especially detrimental to their secondary.
In March, the Vikings released starting cornerback Xavier Rhodes and four other members of the secondary leave via free agency: starting cornerback Trae Waynes, primary nickelback Mackensie Alexander, and effective reserve safeties Andrew Sendejo and Jayron Kearse. So far, the team has not added any defensive backs.
There might not be any immediacy for the Vikings to make a decision on Harris. They have until the franchise tag deadline of July 15 to work out a possible long-term contract. And with offseason workouts in jeopardy of being cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, that could place less urgency on getting something done.
Griffen to Seattle?
Could Everson Griffen be the next star Vikings defensive linemen to finish his career with Seattle?
A source said Tuesday that Griffen, a free agent who announced two weeks ago he will not return to Minnesota, has interest in signing with the Seahawks and that they could be interested in him. It could depend on whether Seattle re-signs free-agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. The source said Clowney is likely the domino needed to fall before Griffen signs with any team.
Hall of fame defensive end Carl Eller played for the Vikings from 1964-78 before finishing his career with Seattle in 1979. Hall of fame defensive tackle John Randle played for Minnesota from 1990-2000 before concluding his career with the Seahawks from 2001-03.
Two years late
The NFL approved a plan Tuesday to expand the playoffs from 12 to 14 teams in 2020. There will be seven teams in each conference making the postseason, with one team, rather than the previous two, getting a first-round bye.
Had that format been in place in 2018, the Vikings would have made the playoffs as the No. 7 seed in the NFC rather than missing out altogether. Under such a format, the Vikings, who went 8-7-1 in 2018, would have opened the postseason at the No. 2 Los Angeles Rams, which would have been a rematch of a Week 4 game won 38-31 by the Rams at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.