Clock's ticking on disgruntled cornerback

Will Al Harris report to training camp? That seems to be the big question around Green Bay. We'll know for sure when training camp begins for the Green Bay Packers next Friday. PackerReport.com's Todd Korth, who was at the shareholders' meeting Wednesday and in post-meeting interviews with Ted Thompson and Bob Harlan, explains why the cornerback will be on Clarke Hinkle Field July 28.

If Al Harris plans to hold out of the upcoming training camp because he is unhappy with his contract, it will be news to Packers general manager Ted Thompson and Chairman and CEO Bob Harlan. Both Thompson and Harlan said Wednesday that they expect the disgruntled cornerback to report on time for the start of training camp.

Players are scheduled to report prior to the first practice, set for the evening of July 28 (6:30 p.m. at Clarke Hinkle Field). Harris, who skipped the team's voluntary practices in May and June, has indicated that he may hold out of training camp, though, his agent says that his client will be there. The ninth-year pro wants his current $18.6 million deal, which he signed less than two years ago, renegotiated to reflect the league standards for starting cornerbacks. Harris is scheduled to earn a base salary of $1.5 million this season, same as recently signed veteran Charles Woodson. Harris also received a $1 million bonus in March as part of his deal. Woodson, however, received about $8 million in bonus money up front from the Packers as part of the $52 million deal he signed in April.

Harlan told reporters after the shareholders' meeting Wednesday that he "understands" Harris will report in time for the start of practices. Thompson said he "expects" Harris to report.

"I read what you guys report that somebody said, somebody said, somebody said something," Thompson said. "I'm not concerned about it. I expect all the players to be here."

Harlan reflected back to the days in the 1970s and '80s when he negotiated player contracts.

"I went to training camp when there were two No. 1's unsigned," Harlan said. "The coach was real patient until about the second day of practice and then his patience wears off and you have to get the guys signed."

Most shareholders also must feel that Harris will report in time for the start of camp. When Thompson mentioned the cornerback during his "state of the Packers" address, Harris received a big applause from the 20,000-plus at Lambeau Field.

Look for Harris to end his off-season protest next week. The cornerback does not have much leverage because of the number of seasons remaining on his contract (it expires after 2009) and his age. He'll turn 32 on Dec. 7 this year, which is getting old for an NFL cornerback.

We all know that Harris is a good at what he does. He has been named a Pro Bowl alternate a few times, but he's not going to make any more money by sitting out. And I don't believe that the Packers will deal him away, like they did Mike McKenzie a few years ago, simply because they need him. Harris will be back. When he shows, give him a pat on the back. If he continues to play well, look for the Packers to either renegotiate his deal next off-season, or trade him away next off-season and open the door for a younger player like Will Blackmon. That's the way of the NFL, and Harris must realize it by now.


Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.


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