Kirk Cousins has taken up a lot of the Minnesota Vikings’ salary cap, but a move with Cousins on Monday allowed the Vikings to retain their top free agent.
The Vikings have placed the franchise tag on safety Anthony Harris, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The Vikings were in a bad cap situation, which is a reason they cut cornerback Xavier Rhodes and defensive tackle Linval Joseph over the weekend.
It appeared Harris would walk, but Cousins’ two-year extension allowed the team to tag him.
Kirk Cousins’ cap savings help Vikings use tag
Cousins’ extension saved the Vikings $10 million in cap space this year, according to Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com. That gave the Vikings the flexibility to tag Harris. According to reports, the expected tag number for a safety is $11.4 million.
It’s only the third time the Vikings have ever used the tag, via Cronin. The other two times were Jim Kleinsasser in 2003 and Chad Greenway in 2011. The Vikings didn’t want Harris, who had a breakout season in 2019, to walk and get nothing in return. Harris tied for the NFL lead with six interceptions last season.
The Vikings could still explore trading Harris after tagging him. But putting the franchise tag on him keeps their options open.
Vikings apparently don’t want a rebuild
The Vikings went to the playoffs last season and won a game. They expected more after signing Cousins two years ago than one playoff appearance and one win, but they apparently aren’t settling for a rebuild yet despite a rough cap situation.
The Vikings had to get creative to create cap space, and redoing Cousins’ historic $84 million, fully-guaranteed deal was the most obvious solution. Cousins had a good season in 2019 and the Vikings are willing to pay for him to be their quarterback through 2021.
It also helped the Vikings retain a key player, at least for the time being.
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