NFL Free Agency: Atlanta Falcons sign veteran safety Erik Harris
The Athletic’s NFL insider Vic Tafur reported that the Atlanta Falcons signed free agent safety Erik Harris yesterday afternoon.
The 30-year-old spent four years with the Raiders, starting 30 games and racking up five interceptions, 20 pass breakups, and a forced fumble. However, he was not offered a new deal this spring, meaning he was an unrestricted free agent.
Erik Harris will have the chance to get one over his old NFL team, the New Orleans Saints
By joining the Falcons in the NFC South, Harris will likely get the chance to do battle with his former team, the New Orleans Saints, whom he represented in 2016. Big things had been expected of Harris down in the Bayou but, unfortunately, after tearing his ACL in November of 2016, he was let go at the end of that season.
The Falcons and the Saints have a long history of, well, not liking each other very much, so it'll be interesting to see if Harris takes the turf in one of the two scheduled games between the two NFC South juggernauts.
Erik Harris's NFL career so far
Harris went unselected in the 2012 NFL Draft and ended up spending three seasons in Canada with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Over the course of those years, Harris played in 45 games, making 79 tackles, and three interceptions while playing in the SAM-linebacker position.
Eventually, Harris's great play and strong leadership brought him to the attention of NFL talent spotters, and he was snapped up by the New Orleans Saints in time for the 2016 campaign.
The Raiders wasted little time in signing Harris after the Saints let him go the very next year. In his first years with the Raiders, Harris mainly operated on special teams, but after some solid performances in this role, the former Tiger earned himself a starting spot at safety during the 2018 season.
In his first year starting games in the Raiders' defense, Harris played in all 16 games, contributed 49 tackles, 7 PDs, and 2 interceptions.
Harris's excellent performances in 2018 earned him a new two-year contract the following spring. In the first of those two years, Harris posted his best NFL season to date, registering 74 tackles, and 3 interceptions (including 2 pick-sixes).
If the Falcons can get Harris back up to his 2018/2019 standards during the pre-season, Atlanta head coach Arthur Smith will have gone some way to plugging a leaky secondary in time for the 2021 NFL campaign kicking off in September.