Vikings will be fine if Anthony Harris doesn’t return in 2020

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Anthony Harris
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Anthony Harris /

Despite the talented safety coming off a great performance in 2019, the Minnesota Vikings should be fine if he decides to go elsewhere this offseason.

After spending the majority of his first four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings as a backup and contributor on special teams, Anthony Harris finally got his chance to shine in 2019 as a member of the team’s starting defense.

In his first full season as the Vikings starting safety, Harris couldn’t have performed much better. In 14 games, he finished 60 tackles, 11 pass breakups, six interceptions (tied for the NFL lead), one fumble recovery, and one touchdown.

Of course, just when Minnesota finds a solid partner in crime for fellow starting safety Harrison Smith though, Harris is heading into free agency this offseason.

With the Vikings’ funds expected to be extremely limited this year, Harris returning for next season is something that doesn’t seem too likely. Especially given the recent report about Minnesota, “bracing for life,” without the safety this offseason.

Combine this with the recent comments from Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer in which he basically said Harris’ position on the field is one of the least important parts of his defense, the writing seems to be on the wall for the safety’s exit out of the Twin Cities this year.

Seeing someone like Harris walk out the door this offseason, might cause some Minnesota fans to worry. But even though it would be great if he ended up returning, the Vikings will be fine in 2020 if he signs with a new team this year.

Prior to Harris entering the starting lineup, Minnesota was rolling with Andrew Sendejo as their other starting safety with Smith. In 2016 and 2017 with Sendejo starting 27 games, the Vikings pass defense finished as one of the three best units in the NFL.

In 2019, with Harris as a starter, Minnesota only had the 15th-best pass defense in the league. The regression of Xavier Rhodes was also a contributing factor in this decline. Still, if the Vikings defense isn’t going to play at an elite level against the pass with Harris on the field, then why should they throw a bunch of money at him to return?

Minnesota also has the luxury of having one of the best minds in the NFL when it comes to pass defense in Zimmer. If any team can afford to let a player like Harris walk, it’s the Vikings.

In addition to all of this, who’s to say that Harris’ level of play from 2019 is going to continue during the next few seasons of his career? It’s very possible that the safety might have already reached his peak as a defender and investing a large sum of money in him is something that could end up backfiring.

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So while most would love to see Harris return this offseason and continue his career in the Twin Cities, Minnesota shouldn’t have any trouble surviving with someone different in the lineup next to Smith in 2020.