Has Rick Spielman’s free agency start boosted his contract hopes?

(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) Rick Spielman
(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) Rick Spielman /
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(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

Franchising Anthony Harris

In perhaps the most surprising move for the Minnesota Vikings, they decided to put the franchise tag on star safety Anthony Harris.

This ensures he will remain with the franchise while the organization either works out a long-term deal with the Pro Bowler or find a willing trade partner. The Vikings kept their cards close to their chest regarding Harris, with head coach Mike Zimmer stating at the NFL Combine that re-signing the player was not top of his list of priorities.

"“I love Anthony; if he doesn’t come back, I think he’s earned whatever he’s gotten. But, you know, if you put up the positions that are most important on defense, it’s probably not going to be safety. We’ll figure out a way to find one if he’s not back. He stepped in for (Andrew) Sendejo when Sendejo got suspended or whatever it was. It’ll all work out.”"

That might have been smoke and mirrors from the Vikings, but it is clear they’ve pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes by franchising their top defensive performer in 2019 and giving him a lucrative $11.44 million payday next season.

Having Harrison and perennial Pro Bowler Harrison Smith on the back end provided the defense with a solid foundation that made up for a lot of shortcomings at the cornerback position. With so many other changes expected in the secondary in the coming weeks, keeping this tandem together was imperative.

Make no mistake, this doesn’t happen unless Kirk Cousins pens a new deal. The quarterback’s extension freed up enough funds to secure Harris for the short-term, which was a masterstroke by Spielman.