The luncheon Tommie Harris attended Tuesday at Maryville Academy celebrated his performance this past season.
The dinner he attended Tuesday evening zeroed in on the Pro Bowl defensive tackle’s future.
Harris got together with agents Drew and Jason Rosenhaus to meet over the Bears’ latest contract proposal. The outcome of their talks is unknown, but this is much is evident: Things are heating up when the Rosenhaus brothers come to town.
They’re not going to travel to Chicago in the offseason for a casual visit. This is business and if past negotiations with linebacker Lance Briggs are an indication, we’ll know more about Harris’ future soon.
Rosenhaus flew into town two years ago this month to hammer out a deal for Briggs. The sides got close but when talks broke off, it was over. Briggs split the voluntary offseason program in 2006 and wound up playing last season under the franchise tag following months of acrimony and public complaints. Harris said he doesn’t want that kind of drama. The Bears are motivated to get a deal done with no further proof needed than the $16 million they have in available cap room.
We’ll see if the sides get down to business. Extensions for players currently under contract are the most difficult to negotiate. Tougher than any deal in free agency. Harder to nail down than a first-round pick holding out of training camp. It’s a delicate negotiation and the team has to be sensitive to it. You saw what happened last summer when cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Nathan Vasher reached agreement on extensions and talks with wide receiver Bernard Berrian fizzled.
Players approaching free agency have an idea of what they want on the open market. But they’re not on the open market, so it’s impossible for outside parties to establish a true value. The team’s position it is it should not have to pay the going rate in free agency when the player has not arrived at that point. The player does not want to be locked up long term without receiving that benefit (or darn close to it). That’s where tricky negotiations start.
Harris was given the Ed Block Courage Award, the Bears' recipient for this season, based on his recovery from serious surgery to repair his hamstring in December 2006. He rebounded to have a career-high eight sacks despite playing most of the season on an injured left knee. He was also chosen because of his thorough philanthropic involvement.
Stay tuned for developments regarding an extension.