ALLEN PARK - Despite being benched by newly installed head coach Dick Jauron, quarterback Joey Harrington still may not be done in Detroit.
Harrington still has two years left on his contract at over $5 million per season each including prorated bonus money.
The conventional wisdom is that Harrington will be released by the team before being paid another roster bonus due on March 1, 2006, but Harrington's fate is likely to be decided by president Matt Millen and whomever the Lions new head coach turns out to be.
Millen is not in a hurry to acquiese to those who say Harrington is a bust and he may have a valid reason.
There is considerable opinion around the NFL that Harrington is just mismatched in a system in which he cannot be productive. One NFL scout told me that the Kansas City Chiefs nearly acquired Harrington prior to the start of the 2005 season - at the urging of the no longer employed Steve Mariucci, who had intended to go with Garcia as the starter. But Garcia injured himself in the last preseason game and those plans were scuttled.
Kansas City along with - according to the scout - eight other NFL teams like Harrington and would be interested in acquiring him at the right price. But if a cat has nine lives, Harrington must have at least eight.
What if the new coach is former St. Louis Rams head coach Mike Martz, who proclaimed himself healthy and ready to return to the sidelines last week?
Martz is an offensive genius known for getting production out of every signal caller he meets. He resurrected Kurt Warner and turned him into a household name when three NFL teams had given up on him. Warner had been seen bagging groceries in Iowa. Marc Bulger picked up where Warner left off in St. Louis despite having little pedigree and even former Harvard signal caller Ryan Fitzpatrick was able to step in and throw for 300 plus yards and three touchdowns last week.
While Martz certainly ought to be the favorite, Brian Bilick (Ravens HC), Jim Fassel (Ravens), Donnie Henderson (N.Y. Jets), Tim Lewis (Giants), Russ Grimm (Steelers OL) and Herman Edwards (N.Y. Jets) all, under the right circumstances will be candidates and have a shot at convincing Matt Millen that they ought to be the next Lions head coach.
One key piece of the puzzle likely will be whether or not they feel they can salvage Harrington in their offensive scheme.
The cat is likely to be back…again.