Damon Harrison

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.”

North Rumors: Browns, Duke, Lions, Snacks

Although Browns running back Duke Johnson has requested a trade, and Cleveland is believed to have shopped him, there’s seemingly no guaranteed he will be moved, as head coach Freddie Kitchens indicated to Tony Grossi of ESPN.com“Duke’s under contract. I’ve said this for a month now, I don’t know where all this trade talk started happening,” said Kitchens. “People just assumed we would trade him because we signed another good football player [Kareem Hunt]. I like good football players, and I like as many as I can get.

“At this point in time, him asking for a trade doesn’t matter to me. He’s a Cleveland Brown. Duke’s the type of the guy who’s going to show up and he’s going to do his job and he’s going do his job well. That’s all I can ask for as a coach. His demands, I’m not impacted by that one bit.”

Hunt is suspended for the first eight games of the 2019 season, so the Browns will need a back to play behind starter Nick Chubb. Johnson, 25, is under contract through 2021 thanks to the three-year, $15.6MM extension he signed last summer. While he handled only 40 carries a year ago, Johnson managed 47 catches and was one of the NFL’s most efficient receiving backs, per Football Outsiders.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • Defensive tackle Damon Harrison isn’t participating in the Lions‘ offseason program, but his absence isn’t related to his request for a new contact, general manager Bob Quinn told Justin Rogers of the Detroit News. “The offseason program is voluntary,” Quinn said. “We have different guys, in different stages and different things in their lives, just like we have every year. So, Damon hasn’t been here the last couple of weeks, but we’ve communicated with him, talked to him multiple times and I’m sure we’ll see him here soon.” Harrison, whom the Lions acquired from the Giants last year in exchange for a fifth-round pick, has two years remaining on his current deal, with cap charges north of $7MM in each season.
  • The Ravens were attempting to sign Arizona defensive tackle P.J. Johnson to an undrafted free agent deal when he was selected by the Lions with the 229th overall pick, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “It was kind of funny,” Johnson said. “I tried to be as polite as possible,” Johnson said, “but get off fast: ‘Excuse me, but the Lions are calling. I’ve got to go.’ ” Baltimore did not have a selection after No. 197, so the club would have had to trade back up (using 2020 capital) in order to land Johnson.
  • Miami defensive tackle Gerald Willis surprisingly went undrafted before reportedly inking a UDFA deal with the Ravens, and his fall was likely caused by a few off-field issues, as Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic writes. Willis allegedly got into an altercation with Skyler Mornhinweg (son of ex-Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg) before being dismissed at Florida, while some former Miami coaches also bad-mouthed Willis, per Zrebiec. The current Hurricanes staff, however, praised Willis.

Lions Open To New Deal For Snacks Harrison

Damon Harrison wants a new contract from the Lions, and he just might get it. Lions GM Bob Quinn says the club plans to discuss the matter with agent Drew Rosenhaus, though a fresh deal for Snacks is not necessarily No. 1 on the team’s to-do list.

It’s something that I got to talk to (agent) Drew (Rosenhaus) this week (about), and going into the future,” Quinn said (via Justin Rogers of the Detroit News). “Not something that I need to do right now. My priority right now is the draft. We got another month or so before the draft is here, so that’s something that we’ll probably talk about in May or June.”

Harrison, 30, has two years left on his current deal. Typically, teams explore extensions with players when they are one year away from free agency, but Harrison could be an exception after he delivered for the Lions’ D. For now, he’s slated to carry cap hits of $7MM in 2019 and $9.25MM in 2020, with no guaranteed money left on his pact.

For the Lions, a new deal could give them an opportunity to smooth out Harrison’s cap hit in the coming years. It would also keep one of their top defensive players happy, which would be a good idea after Harrison helped them to average just 3.76 yards per carry to opposing teams in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Damon Harrison Asks Lions For New Contract

Damon Harrison is coming off his first season as a member of the Lions, and he’s looking for a raise. The player also known as ‘Snacks’ has approached Detroit’s front office about getting a new deal, a source told Kyle Meinke of MLive.com

Harrison had been with the Giants the past several seasons, but New York traded him to the Lions at the trade deadline this past year for a fifth round pick. A defensive tackle, Harrison is widely regarded as an elite stuffer. Last year he received a 92.1 grade from Pro Football Focus, their third-highest grade for any defensive lineman.

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 last year. Originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Jets back in 2012, Harrison has two years left on his deal.

Harrison is set to make a $6.75MM base salary in 2019 and $9MM in 2020, and apparently feels he’s underpaid. He’s still only 30, and wants to be locked up longterm by the Lions. Detroit might be hesitant to negotiate with him still having two years left on the deal, but Harrison played great down the stretch for the Lions and could be worth it as Matt Patricia continues to rebuild his defense.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Giants, Cowboys, Brown

With Landon Collins and Olivier Vernon out of the picture, the Giants‘ defense has plenty of needs. Second-year GM Dave Gettleman has also jettisoned Jason Pierre-Paul, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Eli Apple and Damon Harrison from the team since taking over. Collins’ reputation as a box safety, albeit one of the best in the NFL, looks to have played into the Giants’ reasoning for refusing to use an $11MM-plus franchise tag on him, with Ralph Vacchiano of SNY noting the team did not always believe the All-Pro defender was an adequate cover man. Gettleman considered the contracts handed out to both Pierre-Paul and Harrison as onerous, and Vacchiano adds neither Pro Bowl player was viewed as a plus locker room presence. That said, the Giants have one of the least talented defenses in the NFL, boasting deficiencies at nearly every spot going into free agency. It would seem that would be where Gettleman looks to improve in the next two months.

Here is more out of the Big Apple and the latest from the NFC East:

  • While the Giants already have two monster contracts on their offensive line now, having acquired Kevin Zeitler‘s $12MM-AAV deal, they are going to pursue a right tackle in free agency. Big Blue will “almost certainly” add a right tackle on the market, per Vacchiano, who adds former Gettleman draftee Daryl Williams may be a top target. Williams was a fourth-round Gettleman pick in 2015 but is coming off an injury-nullified season. The Giants tried to sign former Gettleman find Andrew Norwell last year, so Williams will be a name to monitor in the coming days.
  • Sean Lee‘s Cowboys restructure will slash his 2019 salary from $7MM to $3.5MM, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Although Lee has seen younger linebackers replace him as Dallas’ go-to second-level defenders, the Cowboys will keep the veteran around. One season remains on Lee’s contract.
  • If the Raiders are now the team to beat regarding Antonio Brown, the Eagles should not be completely discounted. Philadelphia is the other destination CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora is hearing in the Brown sweepstakes as of Saturday (Twitter link). The Eagles have been hard at work clearing cap space; they are north of $24MM now — before Michael Bennett‘s $6.2MM salary comes off their books. It would be interesting to see the team clear so much off its roster to add a player who has produced so much drama, but the Eagles have not been averse to splash moves in recent years.
  • Connected to a safety upgrade for many months, the Cowboys may opt to seek second-tier options at this position. Extensions for their homegrown standouts may price the Cowboys out of the high-end safeties on this year’s market, Josina Anderson of ESPN.com tweets. The Cowboys remain connected to Earl Thomas, and Richard Sherman said recently his former teammate would choose Dallas if the offers were equal. Another report confirmed no discount was coming. But they may well not end up being equal, complicating this long-rumored partnership. But plenty of safety help will be available next week.

Extra Points: Haley, Browns, Patriots, Kendricks, Seahawks, Harrison, Lions

Rumors of clashing egos within the Browns’ coaching staff have been swirling ever since HBO cameras picked up some internal disagreements on Hard Knocks, and coach Hue Jackson recently added fuel to the fire. After a pair of disappointing Browns losses, Jackson hinted he was going to take back more control of the offense, seemingly taking shots at offensive coordinator Todd Haley in the process.

But Haley is pushing back on reports of a feud, saying he and Jackson are on the “same page”, according to Pat McManamon of ESPN. It’s highly possible, if not likely, that Haley is just saying that to the media and that there actually is bad blood behind the scenes. Haley and Jackson have never seemed like a perfect match for the Browns, and tensions are high with everyone’s jobs in danger. Jackson is backing off his initial comments and expressing more confidence in Haley, McManamon writes, but it will still be something to monitor going forward, and firings could be imminent.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • In addition to working out former Raiders second round pick Obi Melifonwu today, the Patriots also had a pair of other players in for tryouts. They had “TE Ben Koyack (Notre Dame), S Dexter McCoil (Tulsa) in for free-agent workouts today”, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN (Twitter link). Koyack has been with the Jaguars the past few years, and caught the game winning touchdown in Jacksonville’s first playoff game last year.
  • Seahawks linebacker Mychal Kendricks has been suspended indefinitely by the league, and while he’s working to negotiate an agreement with the league office, there’s still no word on when he’ll be able to return. Coach Peter Carroll “says he has been in communication” with the league and while there’s been no “definitive word” they’re “hoping for more clarity early next week”, according to Bob Condotta of The Athletic (Twitter link). Kendricks was suspended due to being charged with insider trading, which led to his release from the Browns earlier this year.
  • Damon Harrison was traded from the Giants to the Lions earlier this week, and now we have more details on the trade. It was reported that Harrison was traded for a fifth round pick, but that pick is apparently conditional, according to veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer (Twitter link). Balzer doesn’t state what the conditions are, but it’s fair to assume they’re related to snaps or games played.

Giants Trade Damon Harrison To Lions

The Giants have agreed to trade defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison to the Lions, sources tell ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). In return, the Lions will send a fifth-round pick to New York. 

The Giants signed Snacks to a five-year, $46.25MM deal in 2016. Harrison, for the most part, has been as good as advertised – few can bottle up runners like he can, and he presently ranks as Pro Football Focus’ No. 6 ranked interior defensive lineman in the NFL. However, his salary is steep, he’s one-dimensional compared to other top defensive tackles in the NFL, and he only plays on about 55% of snaps.

The Giants’ new regime appears to be all-in on a rebuild after moving cornerback Eli Apple on Tuesday and Harrison on Wednesday. With his 30th birthday coming up in about a month, Harrison and his hefty salary did not factor into Dave Gettleman‘s vision of the future. By moving Snacks, the Giants will save $4.6MM this year. Between him and Apple, the G-Men took $5.7MM off of the books.

The Lions, meanwhile, pick up a defensive tackle who stuffs the run the way that Dikembe Mutumbo shut down the finger roll. For years, Snacks has ranked as one of the NFL’s best ground game stuffers, and he hasn’t missed a game since his rookie season with the Jets.

Through Week 7, the Lions have allowed 139.3 rushing yards per game, better than only the porous Broncos and Falcons defenses. With Harrison in the lineup, you can expect that to change in short order.

The Lions were forced to go out-of-house at defensive tackle this year and wound up signing Sylvester Williams and Dunkin’ Donuts franchise owner Ricky Jean-Francois in free agency. Neither player has set the world on fire, so head coach Matt Patricia won’t lose sleep over pulling either player from the starting lineup.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Cousins, Giants, JPP, Harrison

Washington general manager Scot McCloughan says that quarterback Kirk Cousins will be here “a long time,” as John Keim of ESPN.com writes. Of course, as of today, Cousins is still slated to play under the franchise tag for the 2016 season. For his part, Cousins acknowledged that extension talks will likely heat up as the July 15th deadline approaches, Tarik El-Bashir of CSNWashington.com tweets.

Washington can’t afford to lose Cousins and they also can’t really afford to franchise tag him for a second time at ~$24MM in 2017. If the team were to do that, more than 25% of their cap space would be dedicated to Cousins and pricey new addition Josh Norman.

While we wait to see how that plays out, here’s a look at the NFC East:

  • The Giants will likely move Jason Pierre-Paul around the defensive line this year, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com writes. JPP, who was re-signed this offseason on a one-year, $10MM+ deal, likely can’t line up as a full-time starter at right defensive end spot due to the state of his right hand. The two-time Pro Bowler could be moved inside to play defensive tackle on passing downs while seeking the bulk of his time at left defensive end. On the opposite bookend, the Giants will trot out free agent acquisition Olivier Vernon.
  • More from Graziano, who writes that run-stuffer Damon Harrison will team with Johnathan Hankins on early downs. While Snacks’ $9.5MM/year salary might seem high for a two-down player, the Giants firmly believe that he will benefit them on third downs by lengthening the distance their opponent has to go with his work on first and second downs. Giants opponents converted 47% of third-down opportunities in 2016, the highest figure in the league, so Big Blue needs Harrison to help set the tone.
  • Jordan Reed’s contract extension lets other Washington players know that they will get paid if they work hard and produce, Tarik El-Bashir of CSN Mid-Atlantic writes. Reed, a third-round pick in the 2013 draft, inked a five-year, $48.4MM deal that includes $22MM in guarantees. Reed set career highs in games played (14), receptions (87), receiving yards (952), and touchdowns (11) in 2015. “It’s a great message to send to the rest of the guys, man,” coach Jay Gruden said. “You work hard, you produce, good things will happen, and it did for Jordan. He’s a great kid and obviously we have high aspirations for him.”