The rest of the sports world has been cancelled, but the NFL is pressing on with its free agency period. The Minnesota Vikings applied the franchise tag to former Virginia safety Ant Harris (2011-15), meaning he’ll remain with the team for another year. It’s possible the tag could mean that the Vikings want to use him as a piece in a trade in the future, but it also comes after a very successful 2019 campaign for the safety.
As our friends from SB Nation explain it:
The franchise tag is essentially a one-year contract that guarantees a predetermined salary for players. The salary amount is set by the averaging the top five salaries by position for the previous league year, or if it’s higher, 120 percent of a player’s salary the previous season. So players like quarterbacks and defensive ends will have a much higher tag salary than positions like kicker or punter.
In 2020, that means Harris will make $11.441 million.
Harris played 14 games for Minnesota last season, recording 60 tackles and breaking up 11 passes. He intercepted six passes — tied for first in the league — and returned one for a pick-six. Harris had an overall strong season for the Vikings, with PFF grading him out as the best safety in the league.
Highest graded safeties— PFF (@PFF) March 10, 2020
1. Anthony Harris - 91.1
2. Justin Simmons - 90.8
3. Marcus Williams - 88.9
4. Harrison Smith - 88.4 pic.twitter.com/PXnogJuiW1
The Vikings made it to the NFC Divisional Round in 2019-20, falling to the 49ers, 27-10. Harris was picked up by Minnesota as an undrafted free agent after the 2015 NFL Draft, and was called up from the practice squad in December of the same year after injuries decimated the Vikings secondary. After that first season, Harris has played a minimum of 14 games per season.
For his NFL career, Harris has 180 tackles, 21 passes defended, nine interceptions, and four fumbles recovered.
Virginia fans had a chance to see Harris recently as the alum returned to greet the crowd at what proved to be the Hoos’ final basketball game of the season (vs. Louisville).
Welcome home @UVAFootball alum Ant Harris!!#GoHoos | #Wahoowa pic.twitter.com/D2GccG2h3l— Virginia Cavaliers (@VirginiaSports) March 7, 2020