(WCCO) — On Monday, the Minnesota Vikings used the franchise tag on safety Anthony Harris. The move means the Harris, who was one of the top-20 free agents on the market, will receive a one-year deal worth the average of the top-five contracts for players at his position. That deal is worth just under $11.5 million.

But the Vikings franchising Harris may not actually be the end of the story. Had Harris left this season via free agency, the Vikings would have received a decent compensatory pick next season. According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Vikings are willing to part with Harris, now under contract for a year, for “a mid-to-late round draft pick.” So franchising him now, with a sort of sign-and-trade scenario in mind, means the Vikings could be angling to receive that pick this season.

It’s a risk, but it could pay off. And even if it doesn’t, the Vikings have retained one of the NFL’s better safeties for another season.

Anthony Harris played was signed by the Vikings in 2015 as an undrafted free agent out of Virginia. He moved up from the practice squad to the active roster late in his rookie season. He remained a primary backup through the 2018 season, seeing lots of time and starting on numerous occasions over the course of each season. Going into the 2019 season, he took over the starting free safety job, grabbing six interceptions, including one pick-six, and piling up 60 combined tackles.

Harris became a leader on a Vikings defense that’s become one of the league’s more dominant units.

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