ZMI ALPHA:NFL free agency 2021: Eagles sign ex-Vikings safety Anthony Harris | What it means for secondary

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ZMI ALPHA:NFL free agency 2021: Eagles sign ex-Vikings safety Anthony Harris | What it means for secondary

Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon is set to reunite with one of his most notable pupils.

Friday, the Eagles agreed to terms with former Minnesota Vikings safety Anthony Harris on a one-year, $5 million deal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

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Harris, 29, will be one of the two starting safeties in the Eagles’ defensive backfield this season.

Harris worked with Gannon from 2015-17 in Minnesota. Gannon was the Vikings’ assistant defensive backs coach at the time.

Harris — listed as 6-foot-1 and 202 pounds — was the NFL’s co-interceptions leader in 2019 — with six picks — and has produced 284 tackles, nine interceptions and 28 pass breakups over the past six seasons.

Harris brings valuable ball-hawking skills to an Eagles defense that collected just eight interceptions last season. Safety Marcus Epps led the team with just two picks last year. Coincidentally, Harris and Epps were briefly teammates during the 2019 campaign before the latter arrived in Philly through waivers.

Harris and No. 1 cornerback Darius Slay will lead a largely unproven group in the secondary this season. Free safety Rodney McLeod is expected to begin the campaign on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list after undergoing ACL surgery late last year.

The Eagles are expected to employ a split-safety secondary, which will require both safeties to switch roles frequently. Harris, while McLeod recovers, is likely to partner with either Epps or second-year safety K’Von Wallace. The Eagles also have Elijah Riley, Grayland Arnold and newly-signed veteran Andrew Adams at the position.

The Eagles have limited cap space and bargain shopped during the first few days of free agency. Their patience with the slow market paid off, as Harris was a franchise-tag player just a year ago.

Now, Harris will be the Eagles’ featured player at safety. He’s a massive upgrade over Jalen Mills, who left for the New England Patriots earlier this week.

From 2017-19, Harris was ranked among Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded safeties in the NFL. While he had a bit of a down year last season — like the rest of the Vikings’ defense — the Eagles are hoping that a reunion with Gannon will bring the best out of Harris.

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