The Vikings announced this morning that offensive tackle Mike Harris has re-signed with the team.
Harris was a restricted free agent and the team tendered him last week to secure his rights. Terms of the deal are not yet known, but Harris will make $1.542 million in 2015 if he simply signed his RFA tender.
The Vikings claimed Harris last August after the Chargers waived him during their final preseason roster cuts. Harris, the team’s backup swing tackle, ended up starting five of the 12 games he appeared in due to the season-ending injury to right tackle Phil Loadholt. Injuries also forced him to play right guard, something he hadn’t done since youth football, in the Week 7 loss to the Bills.
Harris showed enough when he got on the field for the Vikings to keep him around for this season.
Presumably, he will compete to again back up left tackle Matt Kalil and Loadholt. He is not built like a guard, so it would be surprising if the Vikings gave him a shot to fill their vacant left guard spot.
Denard Span started 122 games in center field for the Twins in 2012, while Ben Revere started 34 more. Both players were young, productive and reasonably inexpensive.
But that meant both were trade chips, and the Twins — who were going nowhere with or without Span and Revere — cashed them in during two separate deals for pitching prospects Alex Meyer and Trevor May (along with Vance Worley, who flopped here but had a 2.85 ERA in 110 innings with the Pirates last year). Meyer and May could soon be long-term parts of the pitching rotation, and if they work out the trades will have been worth it. Either way, the deals were made with good intentions.
The main consequence, though, has been a gaping hole in center field these past two seasons. In trying to build a bridge to Byron Buxton, the Twins have more so assembled a loose network of wooden planks, abandoned aluminum boats and Styrofoam coolers. You can step on those things to get from there to here, but it’s not without challenges.
Aaron Hicks got the job out of camp in 2013, and he started 78 games in center but proved overmatched at the plate. Castoff Clete Thomas received another 48 starts in center, while Alex Pressly got 27.
Last year, it was another hodge-podge: Danny Santana, a converted shortstop, led the way with 62 starts in center; Hicks had 53 and Sam Fuld had 37.
It feels as though we are headed for one more year of this in 2015, reminding everyone that Buxton can’t get here soon enough (and that last year’s lost season was costly because otherwise he very well might be taking over right now). Jordan Schafer is in the mix to get a lot of starts. Hicks, again, is too. The Twins are even giving a long look to Eddie Rosario. Another stopgap — they always seem to come along — could wind up being a placeholder as well.
For the third straight year, the Twins figure to have the least amount of stability at one of the game’s most important positions.
Hurry, Byron. We can’t take much more.
The Vikings quietly had free-agent cornerback Terence Newman — another one of Mike Zimmer’s old players in Cincinnati — in for a visit yesterday, according to a report from NFL Network.
Newman was the fifth overall pick for the Cowboys in the 2003 draft. Yes, that was a long time ago by NFL standards, but even at 36, Newman was a decent player for the Bengals in 2014.
Zimmer was in Dallas when the Cowboys drafted Newman and coached him for four seasons there. In 2012, after Newman’s play dropped from a Pro Bowl level, he reunited with Zimmer in Cincinnati. Zimmer helped clean up his technique while coaxing two more productive seasons out of him.
Last season, with Zimmer in his first season as head coach of the Vikings, Newman wasn’t as sharp. He was graded as Pro Football Focus’ 76th-ranked cornerback in pass coverage. But he did start 13 games for the Bengals and was credited with 14 passes defended to go with one interception.
Newman, who turns 37 in September, will be one of the league’s oldest cornerbacks in 2015.
The Vikings soared to seventh in the league in pass defense under Zimmer. But their depth was not tested at cornerback as their top three cornerbacks — Xavier Rhodes, Captain Munnerlyn and Josh Robinson — all played 16 games. The Vikings would be wise to add more bodies there, and if one of them could challenge Munnerlyn and Robinson for a starting spot, that would be a big bonus.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network also reported that Newman will meet with the Patriots today. So as was the case with free-agent defensive end Michael Johnson, the Vikings aren’t the only suitors.