Damon Harrison

Extra Points: Brady, Dalton, Dolphins, Lions

Tom Brady news figures to be a rather common occurrence in this unusual offseason for the 20-year Patriots passer. Set for free agency for the first time, Brady is not expected to re-sign with the Patriots before free agency opens. The Chargers have surfaced again, with Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports noting that Brady will have the Bolts atop his list — if, in fact, he decides to leave New England. This is not the first Brady-Chargers link, but JLC adds that the 42-year-old quarterback would have a short list if he did legitimately decide to test free agency. The Chargers’ Los Angeles headquarters, which have not been especially beneficial to the franchise thus far, would appeal to Brady. The future Hall of Famer holds offseason workouts at USC and has previously lived in L.A. The Chargers are set to move into their new stadium, along with the Rams. Brady would certainly help on this front, with the team struggling to generate attention in its new market.

Here is the latest from around the league:

  • Andy Dalton and new Bears offensive coordinator Bill Lazor remain close, and JLC can envision this being a factor in how the quarterback dominoes fall during what could be a complex offseason at sports’ marquee position. Dalton “loved” playing for Lazor during his time as Bengals QBs coach and OC, per JLC. Although the Bears have committed to starting Mitchell Trubisky next season, he certainly has not lived up to his No. 2 overall draft slot and could be pushed like 2015 No. 2 pick Marcus Mariota was this season.
  • Patriots free agents Devin McCourty, Joe Thuney and Kyle Van Noy will likely have many suitors. One is expected to be the Dolphins, with Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writing that Brian Flores holds McCourty in high regard and that the team will pursue Thuney and Van Noy. All three are unrestricted free agents-to-be. Van Noy and McCourty played under Flores during his time as de facto Patriots defensive coordinator (2018), linebackers coach (2016-17) and safeties coach (2012-15). Van Noy and Thuney may price themselves out of New England.
  • Raekwon McMillan‘s 2019 season also helped sell the Dolphins on his long-term stock, Jackson adds. The Dolphins are interested in keeping the linebacker around long-term. McMillan rated as an upper-echelon linebacker, per Pro Football Focus, this season and became extension-eligible at season’s end. Under the Flores-Chris Grier setup, the Dolphins have already extended a few holdovers from the previous regime.
  • Damon Harrison revealed at the regular season’s end he is considering retirement, and the Lions are still waiting. They will likely not know Snacks’ plans for at least another few weeks, per the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett. Thanks to the one-year add-on the Lions gave him in August, Harrison is under contract through 2021.
  • The Lions are expected to promote defensive assistant Steve Gregory to secondary coach, Birkett adds. The Lions hired Gregory, who played under Matt Patricia in New England, in 2018. Detroit fired DBs coach Brian Stewart after the season.

Lions’ Damon Harrison Contemplating Retirement

The Lions wrapped up their disappointing 2019 campaign Sunday, and it might’ve been the last ever game for one notable veteran. Speaking to reporters after their loss to Green Bay, Damon Harrison said he’s seriously considering retiring, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

‘Snacks’ as the defensive tackle is affectionately known, said he’s been dealing with several injuries and might have to have surgery. “I got too much pride, man. I’ve been doing this too long. So if I can’t be the player that I’m used to being, I think my teammates deserve better, my family deserves better … I never cheated the game a day of my life, man,” an emotional Harrison said as he reportedly fought back tears.

“My mind’s still telling me I can do it,” he said, “but my body’s just not good.” Harrison had been with the Giants for the past few seasons before he was traded to Detroit last year. He played great after initially joining the Lions, and was one of the league’s better run stuffers for a while. A first-team All-Pro selection in 2016, his play had fallen off significantly this year as he battled injuries.

“But if I do walk away, I’m not ashamed,” he continued. “I don’t feel bad because I gave it everything I had, even when it wasn’t good enough.” Harrison is under contract for $8.5MM next season, but the Lions might not be inclined to bring him back at that price. The 31-year-old signed with the Jets as an undrafted free agent back in 2012, and if this is it for him, he carved out a heck of a career. 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Hunt, Steelers, Lions, Packers

It turns out Kareem Hunt‘s suspension won’t be as significant as it originally seemed. The Browns’ running back is suspended for the first eight games of the season, but he would’ve missed the first handful of those games anyway. Hunt underwent sports hernia surgery on Thursday, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. The injury will likely sideline Hunt for the next 4-6 weeks, according to a tweet from Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

The Browns announced in a tweet of their own that a “full recovery is anticipated prior to his return to action in Week 10 of the regular season.” Hunt will be eligible to return from his suspension on November 10th against the Bills. Until then Cleveland’s backfield will still be in good hands, as they have Nick Chubb holding down the fort. Once Hunt returns, the Browns will have a potentially scary one-two punch. Hunt was one of the best running backs in the league before Kansas City cut him last year, scoring 14 touchdowns in just 11 games.

Here’s more from the league’s North divisions:

  • Ben Roethlisberger has a new backup. Second-year player Mason Rudolph has won the competition to be the Steelers’ backup in 2019, sources told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Pittsburgh drafted Rudolph 76th overall last year, and he spent the 2018 season as the third-string passer behind Roethlisberger and Joshua Dobbs. During the preseason Rudolph impressed by completing 65 percent of his passes while throwing four touchdowns and only one interception, and some think he’s a potential heir to Roethlisberger. He hasn’t been cut yet, but it looks like this could be the end of the line for Dobbs, a 2017 fourth-rounder, in Pittsburgh.
  • The Lions gave defensive tackle Damon Harrison an extension last week, and now we have the full details, courtesy of Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. In addition to getting an extra year tacked onto his deal, Harrison also received a $2MM raise for the 2019 season. He also got a $7.5MM signing bonus. His contract now runs through the 2021 season, with an option on the final year that must be exercised by the final day of the 2020 league year.
  • Speaking of Lions contract details, punter Sam Martin had his deal reworked, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Martin had a non-guaranteed base salary of $2.4MM for 2019, which was bumped down to a guaranteed $1.7MM. Yates adds that 2020 is now a voidable year in his contract. Martin took a pay-cut for 2019, but he’ll now get the chance to reach free agency sooner and cash in as a result of the 2020 year becoming voidable when it was previously just non-guaranteed salary.
  •  The Packers have settled on their starting left guard. After a training camp battle between veteran Lane Taylor and rookie Elgton Jenkins, the team has opted to go with Taylor, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. “It’s going to be a competition throughout the season, but right now Lane Taylor is the starter,” head coach Matt LaFleur said. Taylor signed with Green Bay as an UDFA back in 2013 and has been with the team ever since. He’s started at least 14 games each of the past three seasons, although his play has been underwhelming at times. The Packers drafted Jenkins 44th overall out of Mississippi State back in April.

Lions Extend DT Damon Harrison

The Lions have reached agreement on a one-year contract extension with defensive tackle Damon Harrison, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The extra year will keep him under contract with Detroit through 2021 and is worth $11MM. Harrison will collect $12MM guaranteed from 2019-2020, per Schefter.

Harrison, 30, had been asking the Lions for a new contract since at least March, and Detroit seemed open to the idea from the start. “Snacks” skipped all non-mandatory Detroit practice sessions during the summer, but showed up for training camp at the end of July and was activated off the non-football injury list last week.

NFL players rarely earn (or even seek) extensions with two years remaining on their current deals, but Harrison is an immensely valuable part of the Lions defense. Detroit acquired Harrison from the Giants at the 2018 trade deadline in exchange for a fifth-round pick, and he started 10 games for the Lions down the stretch.

Harrison posted 50 and 3.5 sacks for the Lions while grading as the NFL’s third-best interior defender behind only Aaron Donald and Fletcher Cox, per Pro Football Focus. PFF ranked Harrison as the league’s single-best run-stopping defensive tackle, and as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets, Harrison has led the all NFL interior defenders in tackles in each of the past four seasons.

Harrison was scheduled to earn $6.75MM and $9MM in 2019 and 2020, respectively. At present, it’s unclear how or if the Lions will adjust those amounts, simply give Harrison a signing bonus, or use some other financial method to reward the veteran defensive tackle.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions Activate Damon Harrison

The Lions will take defensive tackle Damon Harrison off the active/NFI list on Thursday, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). It’s a promising sign for a Lions defense that badly needs help up front. 

Harrison has been staying away from Lions camp in an effort to secure a new deal, but he is bringing his holdout to an end. The seventh-year pro, presumably, will continue to push for a new deal. For now, he’s got two seasons to go on the five-year, $46.2MM contract he inked with the Giants in 2016. There’s no guaranteed money left, however, and that’s likely the sticking point for the run-stuffer.

The Lions acquired the former All-Pro nose tackle for a fifth-round pick in October of last year. Harrison, 30, forfeited his $250K workout bonus by skipping OTAs and may be subject to roughly $89K in fines for missing mandatory minicamp.

Both Harrison and Darius Slay, each represented by Drew Rosenhaus, are pursuing new contracts. Recently, Slay also reported to the club.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Damon Harrison To Report To Lions Camp

In his first offseason with the Lions, Damon Harrison skipped all of the team’s activities this year. The contract-seeking defensive tackle, though, will not run the risk of incurring fines for training camp absences.

Snacks plans to report to Lions camp, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). While a new deal doesn’t sound imminent, the seventh-year lineman will show when the Lions begin their workouts Thursday. Harrison has been angling for a new deal for months.

Harrison has two seasons remaining on the five-year, $46.2MM contract the Giants authorized in 2016. No guaranteed money remains, however. The Lions acquired the former All-Pro nose tackle for a fifth-round pick. Harrison, 30, forfeited his $250K workout bonus by skipping OTAs and is subject to roughly $89K in fines for missing mandatory minicamp.

Both Harrison and Darius Slay, each represented by Drew Rosenhaus, are pursuing new contracts. Slay’s deal also runs through 2020. Teams are generally not keen on renegotiating deals with more than a year remaining, so it will be interesting to see how these key Detroit defenders play this as Lions camp gets going.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Lions’ Slay, Harrison

The Lions are set to meet with agent Drew Rosenhaus to discuss the contracts of cornerback Darius Slay and defensive tackle Snacks Harrison, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Both players skipped voluntary and mandatory work this offseason in an effort to secure new deals. 

It’s a tricky situation for the Lions – both players are under contract through 2020, so the team is likely fearful of setting a precedent of addressing contracts with two years remaining. Still, they have $23MM in cap space to work with and these are arguably the two most important players on the defensive side of the ball.

Slay is scheduled to make base salaries of $12MM this year and $10MM in 2020, with per-game roster bonuses totaling $250K each season. Harrison, meanwhile, is on the books for $6.75MM this year and $9MM next year. Both players forfeited workout bonuses of $250K by staying away from the team this offseason and incurred fines of ~$89K by skipping minicamp.

Harrison played in 17 games last season since he was traded before the Giants had their bye week but after the Lions already had their off week. A 2016 first-team All-Pro, Harrison had 81 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 2018.

Slay has spent his entire career with the Lions, and he’s earned Pro Bowl nods in each of the past two seasons. While his 2017 campaign was hard to match statistically, Slay had a solid 2018 with 43 tackles, 17 passes defended, and three interceptions in 15 games (15 starts). Pro Football Focus ranked Slay 23rd among 112 eligible cornerbacks.

Some veterans are scheduled to report to camp on Thursday with the full Lions team due for camp on Wednesday July 24.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions’ Damon Harrison To Skip Camp

The Lions will be without two of their best defenders for this week’s mandatory minicamp. Defensive tackle Damon Harrison has decided to stay home, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. This comes on the heels of cornerback Darius Slay taking a similar stand

Both Harrison and Slay abstained from voluntary offseason workouts throughout this spring, but this is a sign that they are serious about getting contract adjustments. Snacks, like Slay, could be fined roughly $89K for skipping the minicamp.

Harrison has two years to go on the four-year extension he inked with the Giants in 2016. He’s slated to make $6.75MM in base pay this year before collecting $9MM in 2020. Ultimately, it will come down to a game of chicken – Harrison has already coughed up most of his $250K bonus by skipping voluntary practices, and the fines will only get steeper from here.

Interestingly, Harrison played in 17 games last season since he was traded before the Giants had their bye week but after the Lions already had their’s. A 2016 first-team All-Pro, Harrison had 81 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 2018.

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Latest On Darius Slay, Damon Harrison

We don’t know if Lions cornerback Darius Slay has explicitly asked the club for a new contract like defensive tackle Damon Harrison has, but we do know that neither player is taking part in Detroit’s OTAs. GM Bob Quinn has said that Harrison’s absence is not related to his contract, but that seems unlikely, and Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes that Slay and Harrison are indubitably angling for new deals.

Birkett goes on to examine the dilemma that Quinn faces in those negotiations, if he chooses to open negotiations at all. Both players have two years remaining on their current contracts, and teams are loath to extend contracts that have more than one year left. Plus, Slay is 28 and Harrison is 30, so while the defensive standouts have some quality play left in them, the Lions do not want to fork over big money for declining performance.

On the other hand, the Lions cannot afford a repeat of their disappointing 2018 season, and if they believe keeping Slay and Harrison happy financially will ensure their continued strong play, then they may be willing to talk. Then again, it may be just as likely that the players will be more motivated to play well if they are still trying to land one last big contract.

After all, Slay and Harrison have already forfeited $250K workout bonuses by staying away, and Birkett believes that neither player is likely to hold out into the regular season, when the real fines start to accumulate (though both Slay and Harrison are represented by Drew Rosenhaus, so all options are theoretically on the table). As such, the Lions could cross their fingers and hope that Slay and Harrison report to training camp, soldier through the regular season, and revisit negotiations in 2020. Alternatively, since both players are now underpaid relative to their peers, but not dramatically so, the team could add a pay bump or an incentive package to their current deals without tacking on additional years.

Interestingly, Harrison himself took to Twitter yesterday and said that major news is coming soon, so we’ll have to wait and see exactly what he’s referring to.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Kupp, Rudolph, Lions, Eagles

Rams wideout Cooper Kupp tore his ACL back in mid-November, and the team is eyeing a Week 1 return for the 25-year-old. Kupp participated in individual drills during the Rams’ organized team activities on Monday, and he told reporters that he feels better each week.

“It’s been a long process for sure,” Kupp told ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry. “I’ve been doing what I can to get back.

“I can’t predict how I’m going to feel even a week from now. But the way that things are going, I’m happy with the way that things are trending. Each week there’s progress.”

While Kupp wouldn’t give a definitive target date for his return, coach Sean McVay told reporters said the team is hopeful he’ll be ready to go for the season opener.

“He’s like a kid standing on the sidelines that just wants to grab a ball and go play,” McVay said. “He’s one of those guys that’s right on track with where we want him to be.”

The former third-rounder followed a standout rookie campaign with a solid 2018 season. Kupp finished the year with 40 receptions for 566 yards and six scores in eight games.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFC…

  • While there’s no guarantee that he’ll be with the Vikings come the start of the season, tight end Kyle Rudolph told NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero that he’d be attending his team’s OTAs (Twitter link). We learned last week that the organization had offered the veteran a five-year extension, although there hasn’t been a lot of progress with negotiations. There were rumblings that the team could even look to move on from Rudolph after selecting Irv Smith Jr. in the second round of last month’s draft.
  • A pair of veterans won’t be attending Lions OTAs. Coach Matt Patricia told Justin Rogers of The Detroit News that nose tackle Damon Harrison and cornerback Darius Slay wouldn’t be attending the voluntary workouts (Twitter link). “Right now we are – it’s voluntary as that part of the season is concerned,” Patricia said (via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press). “Those two guys are not here. You will not see them at the practice today, but we fully expect that this time of the year, guys that are here, guys that are not. That’s totally fine. We’re working with the guys that are out there.” Both Harrison and Slay have two years remaining on their current deals, and both players are represented by agent Drew Rosenhaus.
  • Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins isn’t attending his team’s OTAs, tweets NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. As ESPN’s Adam Schefter points out on Twitter, the absence is notable because Jenkins is “one of the NFL’s most-respected players.” The defensive back is presumably seeking a new contract, although his current deal doesn’t expire until the end of the 2020 season. Jenkins’ $8.75MM average annual salary still ranks in the top-10 at the position. The 31-year-old earned his third Pro Bowl nod last season.
  • Chris Long played alongside a number of talented defensive linemen with the Eagles this past season, leading to him appearing in a modest 59.1% of the team’s defensive plays. The veteran acknowledged that his diminishing role played a part in his decision to retire. “Philadelphia is where I wanted to play a couple more years,” Long told Peter King of Football Morning in America. “I love Philadelphia. But as a player I learned the most important thing to me is Sunday, and having a chance to be a big part of it. It seemed like player-coach was kind of the role that was going to be carved out for me—maybe playing 10, 12, 15 plays a game. I’m a rhythm player. I need to set people up, I need to be in the flow of the game. If I sit on the bench for three series, I can’t get rhythm, and I’ll get cold and maybe I’ll hurt myself. Some people think that’s great—play less and you won’t get hurt. Man, I want to play ball. In Philadelphia, it didn’t seem there was much of a chance to compete there. But they were honest with me the whole time. I appreciate the honesty.”