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Vikings place $11.441 million franchise tag on safety Harris

Minnesota Vikings safety Anthony Harris, shown here in the NFC Divisional Playoff football game against the New Orleans Saints at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

EAGAN, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings placed a franchise tag on safety Anthony Harris worth $11.441 million, a source said.

Monday’s move gives the Vikings the right to keep Harris, who was an impending free agent, on the team for at least the 2020 season at that salary. The sides still could work out a multi-year contract or Minnesota could trade him.

Harris tied for the NFL lead in 2019 with six interceptions and was rated the No. 1 safety in the NFL by Pro Football Focus.

It was uncertain if the Vikings would tag Harris by Monday’s deadline. However, the franchise tag amount for safeties came in lower than expected after the salary cap was revealed to be $198.2 million, so that might have factored in the decision to tag Harris.

At last month’s NFL combine, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer indicated the Vikings might not be able to afford to bring back Harris.

“I love Anthony,” Zimmer had said. “If he doesn’t come back, I think he’s earned whatever he’s gotten, but if you put up the positions that are the most important on defense, it’s probably not going to be safety. We’ll figure out a way if he’s not back.”

The Vikings, though, created about $18.5 million of cap room by releasing defensive stalwarts Xavier Rhodes and Linval Joseph last Friday and by saving $10 million on the cap due a two-year extension of quarterback Kirk Cousins’ contract.

It’s the first time the Vikings have used the franchise tag since they locked up linebacker Chad Greenway in 2011.