On Tuesday, May 6th we learned that the New York Jets released veteran middle linebacker, David Harris. This came as a shock to most people considering he has been with the team for 10 seasons and has contributed mightily, could he be a fit with the Oakland Raiders?
For the Jets, they’re in obvious “rebuild mode” and are looking to inject some youth into their roster. According to ESPN, cutting David Harris saved approximately $6.5 million dollars in cap space.
After seeing the tweets from Adam Schefter about his release this had a lot of Raider fans raising their eyebrows as the team needs an experienced middle linebacker but as of now in OTA’s the Raiders have been rolling with Tyrell Adams, whom they signed last October on the practice squad and promoted to active roster in November of 2016, and Cory James, the Raiders’ sixth-round pick last year in the 2016 NFL draft. Both of these players have limited experience in the NFL and we saw how this Raiders defense played with poor linebacker usage as tight ends wrecked havoc and there was no one to stuff the run on gap assignments.
Raider Nation’s anxiously waiting if there’ll be some sort of upgrade in the middle and perhaps David Harris could be the guy for the job.
David Harris was drafted in the second round with the 47th pick of the 2007 NFL draft. His career stats are impressive as they total 1,088 combined tackles, 710 solo tackles, 35.5 sacks, 11 forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. The most impressive stat is his durability, as we all know staying healthy is vital to a long career in this league. According to
According to ESPN Writer Rich Cimini, Harris has started and played in 137 of the past 138 games. He missed one game last season, snapping a streak of 121 consecutive starts. It’s important to see that he can be relied upon and not miss games.
Performance wise, I did some digging and found some PFF Stats about his play for 2016:
- Harris earned a 77.6 PFF overall grade in 2016 which ranked 35th out of 87 qualifying linebackers. Harris was much better in 2016 than his likely replacements Darron Lee and Demario Davis who earned 38.3 and 58.4 grades, respectively.
- Harris led the Jets in run stop percentage with a 6.1 stop percentage, though newcomer Davis was better in 2016 with a 7.4 stop percentage.
- He will be missed in coverage where Davis allowed one reception per 11.1 snaps in coverage compared to Lee’s one reception per 7.2 snaps in coverage.
- Harris was the Jets most reliable tackler, missing a tackle once every 15.5 tackle attempts, better Davis, who missed a tackle once every 10.3 attempts.
Looking at these stats you can see that Harris was pretty reliable last year for the Jets in the run and excelled mightily in the pass coverage, something the Raiders desperately need. His tackling can also be used since the Raider’s linebacker core had problems wrapping up and finishing tackles.
According to Spotrac.com, Harris signed a 3 year, $21,500,000 contract with the New York Jets, including $15,000,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $7,166,667. In 2017, Harris would have earned a base salary of $6,500,000, while carrying a cap hit of $6,500,000.
Currently Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie has his hands tied in contract negotiations with Derek Carr and Gabe Jackson so it remains to be seen how eager McKenzie would be to sign Harris and what his asking price would be, as we recall McKenzie was quoted saying after the draft that he would seek other ways of adding more linebacker talent to the roster via free agents . It could be a 1 to
It could be a 1 to 2-year deal if he does decide to go after the veteran, however, current head coach of the New York Jets Todd Bowles was quoted saying:
“They were talking about a pay reduction, and they didn’t come to an agreement — we didn’t come to an agreement, and it eventually led to this.”
Harris was unwilling to take the pay cut so if this serves as a benchmark it seems that David is looking for somewhere in the ballpark of $6 million annually. This does NOT mean he will get this offer from the Raiders but it may serve as a starting point for negotiation purposes.
My final thoughts
Going after Harris could be worth a try to see what the veteran is demanding for his services. This would be a perfect fit and just what this defense needs, a veteran middle linebacker that can contribute as a starter in a position of dire need. He has the leadership skills and can also be the stopgap to the aforementioned problem until the team finds a solution by grooming the youth, addressing through the draft or future free agents. This is something to keep an eye on as the Raiders finish up OTA’s and head to mandatory minicamp.