Anthony Harris Landing Spots: Buccaneers, Bengals, and Washington are all options

    Where are Anthony Harris' potential landing spots if the Eagles' safety departs this offseason after reviving his career in Philadelphia?

    After a 2021 season that saw S Anthony Harris have a bounce-back year with the Philadelphia Eagles, where are his potential landing spots for the 2022 NFL offseason? How has Harris performed this season with the Eagles, what sort of 2022 free-agency value could he be looking at, and which teams might be potential destinations?

    Anthony Harris landing spots

    After a tough season to round out his career with the Minnesota Vikings, Harris bounced back in a big way with the Eagles in 2021. In 2020, he gave up 4 touchdowns in coverage, allowing a passer rating of 118.1. However, this year, he has only given up 1 touchdown and a passer rating of 68.7.

    It is not just allowing touchdowns where Harris has improved. He also reduced the completion rate he allowed from 58.3% in 2020 to 51.1% this season. His yards per target accordingly dropped from 7.3 to 6.2. Additionally, after missing 8.8% of tackles last season, Harris missed just 2.7% this season.

    All of that means that Harris’ value is on the rise heading into the 2022 NFL offseason. Spotrac has Harris’ projected value as $14 million per year over five years. His numbers certainly compare well with other safeties in that salary range, but that feels like a lot for a player who could only get a one-year, $4 million contract a year ago. Furthermore, several safeties who play a similar style may be on the market this offseason. That could push his value down into the $10 million per year region.

    Let’s examine which teams might be in the market for a safety who plays the style of defense that Harris does and has the cap space to add him.

    The Cincinnati Bengals have a decision to make at safety

    We saw a similar style of safety playing on Saturday of Wild Card Weekend: Jessie Bates. He is due to be a free agent this offseason, opening a hole in Cincinnati’s defense if they allow him to walk this year. Harris would be an intriguing fit in that defense because he brings a solid veteran presence. His addition would allow the Bengals’ defense to not miss a beat if they did decide not to bring Bates back.

    It may not seem like signing a 30-year-old to replace a 24-year-old at a similar value makes sense. However, Bates was a liability in coverage at times this season. He allowed an 80% completion rate as he struggled in his fourth season. However, Bates had been strong in coverage the first three years of his career, making this a tough decision for Cincy.

    Could Harris be lining up for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next season?

    It is intriguing that two safeties who play a similar style and are free agents this offseason will both be playing in the same game to kick off Saturday. The Buccaneers have Jordan Whitehead set to be a free agent themselves this offseason, and his versatility is similar to that of Harris.

    The debate here is similar to Bates and Harris. Why would the Buccaneers pay Harris $10 million or more a year and let Whitehead walk? That is where this position will be fascinating this offseason. There are a handful of versatile options available and it will lead to the market favoring the teams. Could a veteran like Harris be willing to take a slightly lower contract with the Buccaneers if it gives him a better chance to win a ring? It is certainly possible if Whitehead wants to chase a big contract in 2022.

    The Jets will be in the market for a versatile safety

    After he was injured during the 2021 NFL season, it seems likely Marcus Maye will be on his way out of New York. Maye was expected to be searching for a contract that would challenge Jamal Adams atop the list of the highest-paid safeties in the league this offseason. Given where the Jets are, they might not be willing to sign a player long-term coming off an injury at a non-premium position.

    That is where the potential comes for Harris to land in New York. The Jets have a young secondary and need to add some experience. They have the cap space to pay for that experience for a short-term leader of their defense. It is not an ideal situation, but it would be a better bridge option than committing a lot of money to Maye coming off an injury.

    Might the Houston Texans look at Harris as a short-term solution in their secondary?

    The Texans and Justin Reid appeared to be on course to go separate ways this offseason. Whether that changes now that David Culley is no longer there is yet to be seen. However, the situation with Reid is similar to that of Maye in New York. Does a rebuilding team commit long-term to a non-premium position when they have no idea of the timeframe of their rebuild?

    Again, that is where Harris provides an alternative option. Houston could put him into the secondary as a leadership figure for the rest of the defense to work around. It might not offer a long-term option at the position, but it does give them a leader they can build around and use to mentor a potential replacement in the coming seasons. The question is how much they would have to pay Harris to come and essentially be a father figure role to this defense if they think they’re several years away.

    Could Harris jump from the Eagles to the Washington Football Team?

    Landon Collins and Washington seem like a match that simply is not working anymore. Collins is not producing to the same level he did earlier in his career, and he is costing Washington a lot. Releasing him could save $6.6 million in 2022 and allow Washington to change direction at the position.

    However, they still need a solid contributor in that role. That defense has been built to compete, and they cannot simply rip it all up because of their struggles this season. Washington likely feels they are solid QB play away from competing, but only if they get their defense back on track. Harris on a two-year deal worth $20 million makes more sense right now than Collins earning $24 million in base salary in that same timeframe.

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