Mike Zimmer Expects Everson Griffen to Return, Hints at Letting Anthony Harris Walk
One day after GM Rick Spielman did the media cycle at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, including an interesting podium session, it was head coach Mike Zimmer's turn. On Wednesday, Zimmer gave a presser, went on KFAN radio, and met with local beat writers. Throughout the process, the Vikings coach made a number of noteworthy comments.
The two that arguably stand out most are Zimmer's answers about a pair of the team's high-profile free agents.
First, during his presser, Zimmer said he expects veteran defensive end Everson Griffen to return in 2020. Griffen recently entered free agency after opting out of the final three years of his contract, and could look to return to the Vikings at a lower price to stay with the organization that has been his home for a decade.
"We met with his agent [Brian Murphy] yesterday, I think it was," Zimmer said. "Everson's a terrific person for us. I think our situation is the right one for him. We expect him to be back. I think he wants to be back, and those kind of things usually work its way out."
Later, when speaking with Vikings beat writers, Zimmer gave an interesting answer to a question about the team's most talented free agent, safety Anthony Harris.
"I love Anthony," Zimmer said, according to the Star Tribune's Andrew Krammer. "If he doesn't come back, I think he's earned everything he's got, but if you put up the positions most important on defense it's probably not going to be safety."
That quote from Zimmer would seem to hint at the possibility that the Vikings, given their salary cap situation, may be forced to let Harris head elsewhere in free agency. After a remarkable breakout season from Harris, the Vikings simply may not be able to justify paying top dollar for a position that Zimmer deems less valuable than others. Not while they have plenty of other holes to fill, including cornerback and both offensive and defensive line.
It's highly unlikely that the Vikings would use the franchise tag on Harris. The organization has only done that twice this century, and doing so would just put them in the same situation a year from now. If Harris does sign elsewhere, the Vikings might have to consider drafting a safety early on in April. Minnesota's Antoine Winfield Jr. could be a possible target.