Monday, November 08, 2010

Packers release CB Al Harris

Today was the decision day for the Green Bay Packers as to what to do with veteran cornerback Al Harris: activate him, put him on IR for the rest of the season, or release him. The Pack went with door #3: they released the veteran who had been with the team since being acquired from Philadelphia in 2003.

Harris suffered a severe knee injury last season and has been rehabbing it ever since in the hope of rejoining the team. Despite being hit by injuries throughout the team, including the defensive backfield, it appears that Packers' management felt going with younger players who have played beyond expectations to this point -- including undrafted rookie CB Sam Shields who has performed very well as the nickel back -- was preferrable to a 35-year-old player attempting a return after what is often a career-ending injury. The decision was obviously also made easier by the fact that Tramon Williams has really raised his level of play and become a very good cornerback for the Packers. The Pack will want to lock him in long-term. Salary implications and roster spots obviously become part of the equation in making the decision the Packers had to make. So does the variable about whether players have more good years ahead of them or less. Yes, Virginia, it's a business. And sometimes it can be that fundamental.

Harris started every game in which he played for the Packers from 2003-09, 102 in all. He was a Pro Bowl selection in 2007 and 2008 and earned second-team All Pro honors in 2007. In 2004, Harris set the Packers' single-season record of passes defenses with 28. During his time with the Pack, Harris had 14 interceptions -- including some very memorable ones...right, Matt Hasselbeck? -- and 108 passes defensed. Harris may not have been the fastest cornerback in the league, but he always seemed to have a knack for being around the ball and making big plays.

The downside for the Packers, other than saying goodbye to a valued veteran, is that Harris can be picked up by any team. Hmmm...which team in the NFC, in the NFC North to be exact, winds up scrounging Packers' castoffs? Oh tends to be those guys in the funky purple uniforms, doesn't it? Don't be surprised if that's where Harris lands.

But, regardless, our best wishes to Al Harris. Thanks for all your great play on behalf of the Packers. As the statement from GM Ted Thompson said, "We wish him the very best in the future and he will always be a part of the Packer family."