It didn’t take Chris Harris too terribly long after being traded to the Carolina Panthers at the start of training camp to realize the move was the best thing for his career.
A sixth-round pick by the Bears in 2005, Harris was going to a team that really wanted him. Castoff players in camp get dealt for conditional draft picks, often times seventh rounders. Carolina forked over a fifth to the Bears, which helped them replace the one they gave up to acquire defensive tackle Darwin Walker, and that showed a commitment to Harris.
The Panthers firmed up that commitment late Wednesday night, agreeing to a four-year extension for Harris through 2012. The deal brokered by agent Albert Elias was reported by ESPN’s Len Pasquarelli. The contract will average about $3 million annually in new money and Harris will bank at least $5.5 million over the first two years. Harris was not going to become a free agent until after this coming season.
Harris had 97 tackles, eight forced fumbles and an interception in making 15 starts for Carolina.
So, he gets the longterm security every player seeks and the Bears head toward free agency and the draft in need of a safety.
Adam Archuleta didn’t pan out as a starter this past season, but the veteran has already received all of the big money in his contract that was re-worked when he was acquired from the Washington Redskins. In terms of money, Archuleta isn’t a problem moving forward. His pay for 2008 will be just $730,000, the minimum for an eight-year veteran. That’s the kind of pay you expect a backup to be getting, and that’s not the most pressing issue.
The matter the Bears need to tend to is finding a starting safety. They know they cannot count on Mike Brown, even if they deem him worth retaining, so the search goes forward.