Will Harris

NFC Contract Details: Saints, Sewell, Elliott

The Saints made a couple of roster moves in recent weeks that we’re finally getting to some details on. These include the deals to sign guard Shane Lemieux, offensive lineman Justin Herron, and defensive back Will Harris and the retirement of offensive lineman James Hurst.

Lemieux and Herron were both signed shortly after the NFL Draft. According to Katherine Terrell of ESPN, Lemieux signed a one-year deal at the veteran minimum of $1.06MM, all of which will count against the salary cap. Herron’s deal is also for one year at the league minimum of $1.13MM. Due to the veteran salary benefit, his contract will only count $985K against the cap.

Harris signed at the turn of the month earlier this week. After five years with the Lions, Terrell tells us that Harris is joining the Saints on a one-year deal worth $1.29MM with a base salary of $1.13MM and a signing bonus of $167.5K. The guaranteed amount of his deal will include the signing bonus and $324K of his base salary. Harris’ contract will count for $1.15MM against the salary cap.

Lastly, Terrell tells us that Hurst, who announced his retirement back in April, will still count against the salary cap. He will count as $2.28MM in dead money, including a $1.5MM roster bonus.

Here are details on a couple other deals reached around the NFC in recent weeks:

  • We already knew some details on Penei Sewell‘s extension with the Lions, but thanks to Mike Florio of NBC Sports, we now have a bit more detail. The deal includes a fully guaranteed amount of $42.99MM consisting of a $15MM signing bonus, a $25MM option bonus in 2025, full base salaries from 2024 to 2026 of $1.45MM, $1.54MM, and $19.9MM, and $12.11MM of the 2027 base salary (worth $23.9MM total). He’ll receive $100K workout bonuses in each offseason after 2025 and a potential $2.5MM roster bonus in 2029.
  • We had some details on Ezekiel Elliott‘s reunion with the Cowboys, but ESPN’s Todd Archer provided some additional detail. We now know that the deal includes a fully guaranteed base salary of $1.25MM and signing bonus of $375K. Elliott can earn an active roster bonus of $375K and will count for $2MM against the cap. He can earn an additional $1MM in incentives, all of which require a playoff berth ($250K for 1,100 scrimmage yards, $250K for 10 touchdowns, and $500K for over 50 percent of the team’s offensive snaps).

Saints To Sign DB Will Harris

A Saints-to-Lions pipeline formed recently, with Dan Campbell and Aaron Glenn in place after lengthy New Orleans tenures. Will Harris will make the reverse trip, committing to the Saints on Wednesday.

The veteran defensive back is joining the Saints, according to NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo. Harris has experience at both safety and cornerback, and he will relocate within the NFC a year after re-signing with the Lions. Harris, 28, has made 40 career starts.

[RELATED: Marshon Lattimore Still In Saints’ Plans]

Busy reshaping their DB corps last year, the Lions reduced Harris’ playing time despite re-signing him. After the former third-round pick had played 1,012 defensive snaps for the 2021 Lions and logged 660 in 2022, the Lions’ bevy of additions kept him as a backup last season. Harris played in every Lions game but started only two and was on the field for just 192 defensive plays. The Bob Quinn-era draftee will nevertheless bring some versatility to the Saints, having spent full seasons at both safety and corner — with some time as a sub-package linebacker — while in Detroit.

As the Lions brought in C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Cameron Sutton, Emmanuel Moseley and second-rounder Brian Branch last year, Harris played on a one-year, $2.58MM deal. The Lions have now moved on from three of these players, making a concerted effort to upgrade at corner, where Harris spent the 2023 season. Detroit moved Harris to corner before the 2022 season and kept him there upon re-signing the Boston College product. Harris started two games last season, playing behind the likes of Sutton, Jerry Jacobs and Kindle Vildor. Only Vildor remains with the Lions among that CB cadre, as the team traded for Carlton Davis and used its first two draft choices on corners last week.

Harris started 11 games from 2019-20 but made 17 starts during Campbell’s first season, a rebuilding campaign that ended at 3-13-1. Pro Football Focus has never been particularly impressed by the 6-foot-1 defender, though he made 93 tackles in 2021 and stuck as a starter for much of Glenn’s second DC season.

The Saints released Marcus Maye this offseason but reached an extension agreement with Tyrann Mathieu. The team used rookie Jordan Howden as a Maye fill-in during his injury- and suspension-marred 2023. New Orleans also re-signed Johnthan Abram in March. At corner, the team added Kool-Aid McKinstry to a crew housing Marshon Lattimore and recent Day 2 picks Alontae Taylor and Paulson Adebo. If nothing else, Harris stands to supply some depth and special teams assistance for the NFC South club.

CB Rumors: Jackson, Lions, Jaguars, Apple

Adoree’ Jackson served as the Giants‘ No. 1 cornerback last season, his second with the team. Despite coming off injury, Jackson fared well against Justin Jefferson in the Giants’ wild-card win. But the team is experimenting on a potential shift in the veteran’s role during training camp. Jackson has seen extensive time in the slot in camp, and Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News notes the prospect of Jackson in the slot and Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins outside is viable.

The Titans used Jackson as an outside corner during his Tennessee tenure, and the Giants stationed Darnay Holmes in the slot last year. They also drafted Cor’Dale Flott as a slot option in last year’s third round. But Holmes has struggled during camp, per Leonard. Hawkins, chosen in the sixth round out of Old Dominion, does not have slot experience. Jackson’s willingness as a tackler would benefit the Giants if they followed through on this, though the move is not set in stone. Holmes still operated as the team’s lead slot defender in a joint practice against the Lions on Wednesday, Dan Duggan of The Athletic tweets. Hawkins being in consideration for a regular role would be notable for a Giants team that struggled for CB depth last year.

Here is the latest from NFL secondaries:

  • Emmanuel Moseley‘s cleanup procedure on the ACL he tore last year has led to an unexpected delay in his return. Moseley reported to camp late due to the surgery, and the Lions placed the free agent signing on the active/PUP list. While Dan Campbell said last week the team expected Moseley back soon, the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett notes no timetable exists for the ex-49er’s return, adding that he may not be a lock to start the season on time. This surgery has provided another delay for Moseley, who signed a one-year, $6MM deal that came with $2MM guaranteed. Campbell confirmed Moseley’s absence to start camp was excused.
  • Fellow UFA addition Cameron Sutton and Jerry Jacobs have worked as Detroit’s starting cornerbacks in camp, and while the return of Moseley will give the Lions another starter-level corner, rookie UDFA Starling Thomas has made enough of an impression that Birkett added he is a good bet to make the 53-man roster. He of a 4.28-second 40-yard dash at UAB’s pro day, Thomas has been running with the Lions’ second-stringers at corner alongside Will Harris.
  • Few battles for starting spots are transpiring in Jacksonville, but the Jaguars are holding one at nickel corner. Despite bringing back Tre Herndon on another one-year deal, the Jags are pitting the sixth-year veteran against several players for the slot role. Second-year players Gregory Junior (Round 6) and Montaric Brown (Round 7) join sixth- and seventh-round rookies Erick Hallett and Christian Braswell in vying for this job, per Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com. Fifth-round safety Antonio Johnson has mixed in here as well. Herndon re-signed on a fully guaranteed $2.58MM deal. Formerly surpassing 900 defensive snaps in back-to-back years, Herndon finished with just 416 last season.
  • Eli Apple‘s Dolphins deal is worth $1.6MM over one season, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. Incentives could take the veteran corner’s contract up to $2.28MM. While the $1.6MM is not entirely guaranteed, the former top-10 pick received a $250K signing bonus.

DB Notes: Baker, Gordon, Lions, Chinn

Budda Baker issued a trade request in February, though it did not become public until mid-April. The Pro Bowl safety remains with the Cardinals and attended the team’s minicamp this week. But the disgruntled defender did not participate in on-field work, Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com tweets. This hold-in effort did involve some degree of participation, with Jonathan Gannon indicating Baker has texted with him regarding film and has been in contact with coaches.

It was good to have him in the building today,” Gannon said (via Weinfuss), calling Baker’s situation “the business side of it.” “Smile on his face. He was asking a bunch of questions. I told the coaches, you better be on your toes cause he’s going to ask good questions. The dialogue has been great, and I’m ready to get [No.] 3 back out there.”

With the Cardinals rebuilding and unlikely to have Kyler Murray available to start the season, it would be interesting to see if they listened to offers for Baker. It also is understandable for Gannon to want the decorated safety back in the mix, given the talent the Cardinals lost on defense this offseason (J.J. Watt, Zach Allen, Byron Murphy, Markus Golden). Two years remain on Baker’s $14.75MM-per-year contract, which has paid out its guarantees.

Here is the latest DB news from around the NFL:

  • The Bears now have three second-round cornerbacks on their roster, adding Tyrique Stevenson to a mix that includes Jaylon Johnson and Kyler Gordon. A 2022 Round 2 choice, Gordon is now ticketed for a full-time slot role, Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic notes (subscription required). The Washington product played both inside and outside last season, logging a 97% snap rate in the 14 games he played. Gordon intercepted three passes and forced a fumble as a rookie, though Pro Football Focus did not view his coverage work especially fondly, ranking the 6-foot defender 108th among qualified corners.
  • Will Harris moved from safety to slot corner with the Lions last year, but the team’s secondary overhaul included the additions of two hybrid players — C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Brian Branch. Both safeties have extensive slot experience, and Gardner-Johnson — despite leading the NFL with six interceptions last season as an Eagles safety — is expected to play plenty in the slot with the Lions. Harris should be expected to be a backup in 2023, per the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett, who notes the fifth-year defender should work as the top reserve on the outside and in the slot. A former third-round pick who re-signed on a one-year deal this offseason, Harris started 10 games last year.
  • Used as a linebacker and a safety over his first three seasons, Jeremy Chinn is set to stay on a versatile track in Carolina. The former Panthers second-rounder has worked as a nickel presence throughout the offseason, David Newton of ESPN.com notes. New Panthers secondary coach Jonathan Cooley said the staff has not fully pinned down Chinn’s role, which will make this run-up to a contract year interesting. The Panthers held off on trading Chinn last year, keeping him as part of a young defensive core.
  • Texans cornerback Steven Nelson hired a new agent recently, per KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson, who notes David Mulugheta is now representing the ninth-year defender. Nelson signed a two-year, $9MM deal with the Texans in 2022, but started all 15 games he played. Going into his age-30 season, the former Chiefs, Steelers and Eagles corner is running out of time to make another financial splash.
  • The Cardinals made tiny splashes in the secondary recently, adding corners Dylan Mabin and Bobby Price. Both will be on league-minimum deals, with GOPHNX.com’s Howard Balzer tweeting Price will earn $1.01MM (the minimum for a fourth-year player) while Mabin is at $870K (the basement for a player with one year of experience). With neither assured of a roster spot, no money here is guaranteed.

Lions To Re-Sign DB Will Harris

The Lions’ secondary will look a bit different next season, but they’re hanging on to one of their key defensive backs. The team has agreed to a one-year contract with defensive back Will Harris, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

[RELATED: Lions To Sign CB Cameron Sutton]

Harris, a 2019 third-round pick out of Boston College, has spent his entire four-year career in Detroit. He’s spent time switching between safety and cornerback throughout his career, but as Birkett notes, he played his best football when serving as the Lions’ slot cornerback last season.

The 27-year-old finished the campaign having started 10 of his 15 appearances, finishing with 57 tackles and four passes defended. He only graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 64th cornerback (among 118 qualifying players), although the site did grade him close to the top-third at the position in coverage. Harris will likely continue in his slot role in 2023, but his versatility does provide the Lions with some options.

The Lions have been busy reworking a unit that finished last in total defense last season. The team made one of the biggest splashes of free agency when they signed cornerback Cameron Sutton, and they’ve also added former 49ers cornerback Emmanuel Moseley.

CB Rumors: Hill, Sutton, Pats, Colts, Lions

After seeing Troy Hill join the Browns in free agency last year, the Rams entered the 2022 league year eyeing Cleveland’s cornerback decisions. The Rams began discussing the idea of reacquiring Hill in early March, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic notes, and the team monitored the Browns’ draft to determine if it was a realistic move (subscription required). If the Browns drafted a cornerback on either Day 1 or Day 2, Rodrigue adds the Rams planned to make a move for Hill. Martin Emerson‘s third-round Cleveland arrival led to L.A. brass bringing back the veteran slot cornerback. The Rams, who had lost Darious Williams in free agency, sent a 2023 fifth-rounder to the Browns for Hill. Although Hill spent time in Youngstown, Ohio, growing up, the 30-year-old defender wants to stay with the Rams beyond his current contract — a two-year, $9MM deal that expires after the 2022 season.

Here is the latest from the cornerback scene across the league:

  • Cameron Sutton is going into the final year of his second Steelers contract and, with Joe Haden out of the picture, will go into the season as the team’s top cornerback. Sutton expects to go into the season without a new deal, but the now-Omar Khan-led Steelers have extended three contract-year players — Minkah Fitzpatrick, Chris Boswell, Diontae Johnson — in recent weeks. Sutton has confirmed he and the team have not discussed an extension, via Mark Kaboly of The Athletic. The sixth-year corner also is expected to spend most of his time in the slot this season, lining up on the outside in base sets and moving inside — with Levi Wallace and Ahkello Witherspoon outside — in sub-packages.
  • The Patriots have primarily used Jonathan Jones as a slot cornerback. His 2019 extension came as a result of slot play, and Pro Football Focus graded him as a top-tier cover man in 2020. But New England has been using Jones on the outside in recent days at camp, Doug Kyed of PFF notes, with third-round rookie Marcus Jones working in the slot. The Pats have been searching for an outside corner alongside Jalen Mills, and the recently unretired Malcolm Butler has yet to seize that gig. Marcus Jones is also viewed as the likely Pats punt returner, per Kyed.
  • Will Harris has worked as a safety during his first three seasons, but the fourth-year Lions defender is now battling former No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah for an outside cornerback spot, Eric Woodyard of ESPN.com notes. Harris started all 17 games for the Lions last season, but in addition to re-signing Tracy Walker, Detroit added ex-Baltimore safety DeShon Elliott. Okudah losing this competition would be a massive disappointment, given his draft slot, but ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler adds the Ohio State product is not being restricted by his 2021 Achilles rupture and is firmly in the Lions’ plans. Detroit’s first “unofficial” depth chart has Harris ahead of Okudah, alongside corners Amani Oruwariye and slot A.J. Parker.
  • The Colts may be ready to declare a winner in the battle to determine their third primary cornerback. Veteran addition Brandon Facyson is likely to play alongside Kenny Moore and Stephon Gilmore, Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star notes. Facyson, a Gus Bradley-system vet who has been with the new Colts DC with the Chargers and Raiders, appears to be beating out 2020 sixth-round pick Isaiah Rodgers. Largely a backup before starting nine Raiders games last year, Facyson signed a one-year, $3.84MM deal this offseason.
  • Darqueze Dennard spent 2021 with four teams — the Cardinals, Colts, Giants and 49ers — and played in just two games. But the 49ers, with K’Waun Williams now a Bronco, have Dennard in pole position to be their slot corner, Matt Barrows of The Athletic notes. A former first-round pick, Dennard spent years as the Bengals’ primary slot. The 31-year-old defender is attempting to fend off rookies Samuel Womack and Qwuantrezz Knight.

Trade Notes: Browns, Broncos, Eagles, Patriots, Saints, Lions

The Patriots and 49ers strengthened their aerial groups Tuesday, and the Saints are exploring the idea of doing the same. New Orleans is pursuing pass catchers, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora (on Twitter). The Saints made a late-season addition of Dez Bryant last year but saw the longtime Cowboy go down before playing in a 2018 game. This Saints iteration has surprised many by going 5-0 with Teddy Bridgewater at the controls, firmly placing the team in the contention picture. This offense has long funneled through Michael Thomas, with a steep drop existing between New Orleans’ No. 1 target and its other receiving targets. A.J. Green could be available, but the Bengals wideout may not be healthy by the deadline. Robby Anderson could also be a trade candidate, as could Demaryius Thomas (again).

Here is the latest from the trade market. Seven days remain until this year’s deadline.

  • Cornerback dominoes have fallen as well, with the Rams, Ravens and Texans making plays for key cogs. The Eagles‘ shaky pass defense features a notable need at corner, and the team has contacted the Broncos about Chris Harris, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets. The Eagles were ready to send first- and second-round picks to the Jaguars for Jalen Ramsey. Harris is five years older and in a contract year, but it will likely take a Day 2 pick to pry him from Denver. The Texans tried to acquire the 30-year-old standout as well but evidently were not amenable to the Broncos’ asking price.
  • It does not look like a Trent Williams-to-Cleveland scenario will transpire. The Browns have repeatedly inquired about the Redskins tackle, but Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes (via Twitter) they have accepted the fact Washington will stick to its guns and hold onto him. Washington has Williams signed through 2020 but has not seen him budge on his holdout. The Redskins are believed to prefer waiting until the offseason to trade him, in order to learn where every team’s draft capital resides.
  • The Patriots paid up to acquire Mohamed Sanu from the Falcons, parting ways with a second-round pick for the eighth-year wideout. But they were also in talks with the Broncos about Emmanuel Sanders, Mike Klis of 9News notes. The Pats signed Sanders to an RFA offer sheet in 2013, but the Steelers matched. This marked the second straight year the Patriots wanted one of the Broncos’ starting wideouts, having tried to acquire Demaryius Thomas before the 2018 deadline. San Francisco landed Sanders for third- and fourth-round picks.
  • The Lions surprised many by dealing starting safety Quandre Diggs to the Seahawks, doing so despite Diggs being signed through 2021. Lions brass viewed Diggs’ play as having fallen off, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link), and called multiple teams about moving him. The Lions landed a 2020 fifth-round pick for Diggs, who is now a Seahawk. The play of young safeties Tracy Walker and Will Harris helped induce the Lions to pull the trigger, Birkett adds. Walker and Harris grade as top-40 safeties, per PFF, which has Diggs slotted outside the top 60. Diggs is only 26, however. This trade gives the Seahawks access to a key part of his prime.

Lions Wrap Up Draft Class Signings

The Lions have finished signing their entire draft class. The team announced (via Twitter) that they’ve signed third-round safety Will Harris.

The Lions had to trade up in the third round to acquire the Boston College product. Ultimately, Detroit received No. 81 from the Vikings in exchange for No. 88 (which was acquired in the Golden Tate deal) and No. 204.

Harris was undoubtedly a logical pick; as a senior captain, the safety finished with 75 tackles, earning him a third-team All-ACC nod. His best season came in 2018, when he led the nation with four fumble recoveries. Harris ended up being one of three BC players to be selected in the first three rounds, joining first-round lineman Chris Lindstrom (Falcons) and third-round defensive end Zach Allen (Cardinals).

In Detroit, Harris could have a chance to establish himself as a major contributor. At the moment, Tavon Wilson and Quandre Diggs are slotted in as the team’s starters. If that ends up being the case, Harris will be competing with free agent addition Andrew Adams and 2018 third-rounder Tracy Walker for backup reps.

As we mentioned, this signing means the team has inked all of their 2019 draft class to contracts. That grouping includes:

Lions Acquire No. 81 Pick From Vikings

Two NFC North teams worked together on a third-round deal. The Lions moved up seven spots to No. 81, sending the Vikings a sixth-round selection (No. 204) to do so.

Detroit took Boston College safety Will Harris with the pick. A second-generation NFLer, Harris ran a 4.41-second 40-yard dash at the Combine. He finished with six fumble recoveries and 158 tackles the past two years.

The Lions cut Glover Quin this offseason and signed Andrew Adams in free agency. Harris joins a safety group headed by Quandre Diggs and Tavon Wilson.