Since Tyrone Williams voided his contract Friday and became a free agent along with cornerback Tod McBride, the Packers were in need someone who would be able to come in and start right away. Packers coach and general manager Mike Sherman felt that he would not be able to find such a player in the draft, so he spoke with his former coaching partner, Andy Reid, the last couple of days and worked a deal for Harris.
"We went right into it and looked for the best possible solution to our problem," Sherman said. "Al Harris is a right corner. He's very aggressive. He has good size, and he challenges receivers. I liked him from the beginning. Our staff and personnel department felt he could come in and help us quickly."
Sherman said he would not have traded for Harris without receiving at least a fourth round pick in return from the Eagles. He feels that the Packers can land a quality player in the fourth round.
"There is a difference but not a significant difference (from the second round)," Sherman said. "Getting that fourth round pick to me was instrumental. When I think about how we drafted on the second day a year ago, that fourth round pick and those later picks are very important to me."
Last year the Packer selected running back Najeh Davenport in the fourth round, 43 picks after selecting safety Marques Anderson in the third round. Green Bay selected defensive lineman Aaron Kampman with the first of two picks in the fifth round. All three players made significant contributions. Anderson was a finalist for NFL defensive rookie of the year.
Harris has appeared in 80 games overall with 21 starts. He has not missed one game over his five-year NFL career and carries an 80-game playing streak into the upcoming season.
Harris is a little bigger than Williams and more physical, according to some experts.
"(Harris) is an upgrade over Williams," an NFL scout told the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "That's a good trade for them. If you look at him, he has size, speed, he's physical. He's a complete player."
With Harris in the fold, Green Bay has pretty much ruled out pursuing Williams, who spent eight seasons with the Packers. He signed a five year contract extension in 1999 but the final year included a $4 million bonus which was due on March 1. If Williams hadn't voided the contract the salary cap strapped Packers would have released him. He is seeking a contract similar to the one that left cornerback Mike McKenzie received a few years ago. It included a $3.4 million signing bonus and averages about $3.4 million a year.