The Eagles haven’t made a ton of free agency moves this year, but they did sign safety Anthony Harris, who is very excited about moving to Philadelphia. Harris spoke to reporters on Tuesday about why he chose to sign with the Eagles, why he’s looking forward to playing in front of the fans, and what he expects from a Jonathan Gannon defense.
As far as signing just a one-year deal, Harris said it’s all about football for him and taking things a year at a time, but all the business stuff was handled by his agent. He’s just excited to be with the Eagles and isn’t worried about it only being a one-year vs. multi-year deal.
Here’s what else the safety had to say:
On why he chose Philadelphia
Harris said that it was a good fit and closer to home, and it’s exciting to get back on the East Coast where his family can drive up to see him. He also talked about how it was nice to reconnect with guys like Rodney McLeod and defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon.
“Ultimately, just being able to come into a new situation, and I’m just excited to be here.”
The safety was asked about his relationship with Jonathan Gannon and how much that factored into his decision, and Harris acknowledged that having someone he already has a connection with and can talk football with was definitely part of the attraction to the Eagles.
“But, also, just the locker room, the mindset, and what the Philadelphia Eagles represents that toughness is something that I’m excited for.”
He also played with McLeod for one year at UVA, and coming in as a freshman, McLeod was a big mentor for him and took Harris under his wing and showed him the ropes. McLeod showed Harris what it took to be successful at that level and the kind of work he put in outside of team activities. Harris is really looking forward to reconnecting.
The new safety also has a relationship with Marcus Epps and Craig James from their time in Minnesota. Harris talked about how he always tried to be welcoming in the locker room, and he did the same with Epps and James and tried to be a mentor to them, so it’s nice coming to Philly and seeing familiar faces.
On his impression of the fans and organization
“Well, to start, you know with the fanbase and the city, I know that they’re really passionate about football. They’re really passionate about the Philadelphia Eagles. Just being here for a few hours this morning, seeing individuals who walk throughout the city with different shirts. Seeing an older woman earlier, walking with a shirt that says ‘Win or lose, Imma die a Philadelphia Eagles fan,’ I thought that was very powerful. So, I just think that the love for the organization is something that I’m very excited about.”
Harris went on to talk about the staff and said that everyone has been very welcoming. He also noted that it was great getting to talk to and know head coach Nick Sirianni and his background and personality.
Later, Harris spoke about how he has that underdog mentality as a guy who was an undrafted free agent and had to wait to become a full-time starter. The safety noted that his story of working hard and working for everything he has is something that resonates with the city of Philadelphia.
He was also asked about how it was to be on the losing side of the NFC Championship game for the 2017 season and what he remembers about the atmosphere. With a smirk, Harris said it was electric, and he remembers during warmups when Meek Mill was playing and the players were dancing, and the crowd was going wild. He’s excited and looking forward to playing for Eagles fans and the extra burst of energy that they bring to the game.
On the defense under Gannon
“I expect his defense to be fundamentally sound. Just knowing him, he’s a person who really likes and loves the game, he communicates well with the players, asks how you see things out there on the field. So that’s one piece, and then, just effort. He’s really big on effort, controlling what you can control, and just flying around playing football and just loving it.”
Harris later talked about Gannon’s personality and what he’ll bring to Philadelphia as a defensive coordinator and the first thing the safety mentioned was energy. Gannon is a guy who has a balance between setting expectations and getting to the point, but also jumping around with guys when they make a play. Harris would expect Gannon to be right there next to guys in practice and sometimes even demonstrating drills.
The safety also suggested that the fun part of this defense, with Gannon at the helm, is that it could be a different system from what they ran together in Minnesota. Gannon has the ability to change things up, or keep things similar, but Harris is excited to see what the new DC does with the role.