What Anthony Harris staying means for the Vikings defense

The Minnesota Vikings made official on Monday what Anthony Harris did himself the day before: The veteran safety signed his franchise tender and will be with the Vikings for the 2020 season.

That’s just the start. Harris expressed his desire Sunday to stay with the Vikings long-term, and he is letting his agents do the work for that to happen. Harris will give the Vikings’ secondary a veteran player coming off the best season of his career, and they’ll need his leadership with a revamped defensive backfield moving forward.

Harris is set to make $11.4 million this season, unless the Vikings can work out a long-term extension with him by July 15. His six interceptions last season led all NFL safeties, and tied for second overall among defensive players. It was also the first time since 2011 the Vikings used the franchise tag, when it was placed on linebacker Chad Greenway. The franchise tag is a move a team can make on one player to prevent them from becoming an unrestricted free agent.

“Although it has been a strange offseason, time spent in isolation with family has been refreshing and energizing. This is just one step in God’s plan for me and my family. I will let my agents and the Vikings work towards a long term certainty in Minnesota, but I am excited to be back for the 2020 season,” Harris wrote in a social media post.

Harris added, “I am continuing my focus on what it takes to be successful both as a team and as an individual. I am excited for the new challenges the 2020 season will bring, but I am most excited for the opportunity to help bring a Super Bowl to Minnesota and the best fans in the country.”

In 14 starts last season, he had 60 tackles and 11 passes defended. Harris came to the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2015. He has nine interceptions, 21 passes defended, one forced fumble and four fumble recoveries in 65 career games, and 31 career starts.

Harris will serve as a mentor and defensive leader for the Vikings in 2020. They drafted five secondary players in this year’s draft, including a pair of safeties. They also used two of their top four picks to draft defensive backs, having to replace Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander, Andrew Sendejo and Jayron Kearse.

Here’s a look at the Vikings defensive depth chart as it stands today:

Defensive end – Danielle Hunter, Ifeadi Odenigbo, Kenny Willekes (rookie), D.J. Wonnum (rookie), Eddie Yarbrough, Anthony Zettel, Stacy Keely

Defensive tackle – Michael Pierce, Hercules Mata’afa, Jaleel Johnson, Jalyn Holmes, James Lynch (rookie), David Moa, Shamar Stephen, Armon Watts

Linebacker – Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Eric Wilson, Troy Dye (rookie), Jordan Fehr (rookie), DeMarquis Gates, Ben Gedeon, Blake Lynch (rookie), Cameron Smith

Defensive back – Kris Boyd, Mike Hughes, Holton Hill, Jeff Gladney (rookie), Nevelle Clark (rookie), Cameron Dantzler (rookie), Mark Fields, Harrison Hand (rookie), Nate Meadors, Marcus Sayles, Kemon Hall

Satefy – Anthony Harris, Harrison Smith, Brian Cole II (rookie), Myles Dorn (rookie), Josh Mettelus (rookie)

Barring more offseason moves, the Vikings’ defensive back corps appears to be the biggest question mark going into the 2020 season.