The release of Tommie Harris will create an interesting free-agency tour for the one-time Pro Bowler. There are a lot of rumors about one team's interest in him, but the Colts have been burned many times over with that move. Plus, what happened on the conference call with the NFL labor judge, and what of those Randy Moss-to-the-Jets rumors?
The rumors this week linking free agent defensive tackle and three-time Pro Bowl performer Tommie Harris
to the Indianapolis Colts
make some sense on the surface, given the team's longtime struggle to fill the interior position with a big-time player. And with Harris' style, which fits well with the Indianapolis scheme.
But if Harris joins the Colts, even with a palatable contract heavy on incentives, when the NFL eventually resumes free agency, it will be a bit of an upset. For all their ability to fill holes through the years, the Colts haven't had much success with importing veteran defensive tackles, and they'd have to be a lot luckier with Harris than their past track record.
Indianapolis signed Corey Simon as a free agent in 2005 after Philadelphia first rescinded his franchise tag and then released him, and he lasted one season, registering 34 tackles and three sacks in 13 appearances. Team president Bill Polian later termed the addition of Simon, who signed a five-year, $30 million contract, a "big mistake."
In 2006, the Colts traded a second-round pick to Tampa Bay for tackle Anthony McFarland. He, too, essentially played one season with the Colts before blowing out his knee in training camp the ensuing season. In just 11 outings, McFarland registered 33 tackles and 2 1/2 sacks. Owner Jim Irsay called the deal for McFarland a "bad mistake" upon releasing him.
Doubtless, the addition of Harris, who was released by Chicago in February, and was due about $5.3 million in bonuses and salary for 2011, will be tempting for many franchises. The former first-round choice is only 27 years old and, while his production has waned the past three years (nine sacks total 2008-2010 after notching eight sack in '07), he might still have something left. Obviously, the seven-year veteran has something left to prove.
But the rumors aside, it likely won't be in Indianapolis. The Colts currently have six defensive tackles on the roster, and two were acquired as undrafted free agents, two were claimed on waivers, and another was a seventh-round draft choice. But trying to add a high-profile veteran hasn't worked in the past for the Colts, and that history probably won't serve Harris especially well as he contemplates where he will resume his career.
ORDER IN THE COURT
Familiarity breeds contempt of court: Perhaps more detailed analysis from the court-ordered mediation sessions between the league and the NFLPTA will emerge in coming days, but observers shouldn't really count on much more than the pretty general characterizations that have been reported so far. One reason: Some folks in the offices of Judge Susan Nelson, who last week presided over the hearing involving the injunction to lift the lockout, weren't particularly thrilled at the various news leaks that presaged the order for the two sides to return to the bargaining table with U.S. magistrate judge Arthur Boylan as referee. Nelson had ordered confidentiality from the two sides and someone blabbed.
"They don't seem to understand that when (Judge) Nelson says, 'Keep your mouths shut,' she means it, " said a court source close to Nelson. In essentially defying Nelson's gag order, the sources could technically be in contempt of court. Nelson and her staff aren't apt to pursue the contempt charges, but they've unofficially served notice to both sides that such leaks will not be tolerated in the future.
Despite reports to the contrary, the New York Jets have no interest in free agent wide receiver Randy Moss. But you've got to give props to coach Rex Ryan for his ability to create a story just by opening his mouth.
It didn't get a lot of national play, and probably didn't merit it, but NFL scouts paid a lot of attention to the December decision by Georgia coach Mark Richt to change strength and conditioning coaches. The feeling among league scouts was that some Bulldogs prospects lacked functional strength the past several years. The school re-assigned Dave Van Halanger, who has been the strength coach the past 10 years, within its athletic department, and replaced him with Joe Tereshinski.
Nothing against mock drafts, and the guys who work so hard at them (thankfully, we're not among them), but a lot of scouts feel they're among the most overhyped part of the pre-draft process. The other element most cited: Tracking player visits to teams. Last year, more than 80 percent of the prospects who met with clubs were not chosen by teams with whom they visited.
It's been a bit of a roller coaster for size at cornerback, but scouts seem to be back to the desire for bigger cover prospects, much the way they were a few years ago. Good timing, too, since the consensus top 10 cornerbacks in the '11 pool average just a shade over 6 feet tall and 201.4 pounds. The lone "undersized" (and that might be a misnomer) corner among the top prospects at the position appears to be Brandon Harris of Miami (Fla.), who measured 5-feet-9 1/2 at the combine.
Although it's gotten plenty of press, Arizona Cardinals officials insist the opinion of wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald will have zero affect on the franchise's direction at quarterback for 2011.
Although pending free agent RB DeAngelo Williams has been relatively public about his interest in the Miami Dolphins, who are unlikely to re-sign either Ronnie Brown or Ricky Williams, the Carolina Panthers remain fairly confident they can retain the standout tailback.
The Eagles could have an entirely new right side of the offensive line in 2011. Of particular note could be the battle between incumbent Winston Justice and untested King Dunlap for the right tackle spot.
Speaking of the right side, there has been plenty of emphasis on the left tackle spot in the draft, and there could be 5-6 left tackles go off the board in the first round. But many personnel evaluators feel that the right tackle position, while lacking the quality at the top, is perhaps as deep as the left side in the draft.
The last word: "At some point, I think you let bygones be bygones. I think some people will never forget. Some people will. But I think that's the reality of what I created for myself." – Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick, per the Wall Street Journal, on his federal dog-fighting conviction