Chicago Sun-Times

Harris offseason priority for Bears

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It’s been almost three weeks, so either the figure has grown since Drew Rosenhaus put the finishing touches on a $4 million, two-year contract for Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Justin Hartwig, or the agent has taken a little vacation.

That figure is the $440 million in contracts Rosenhaus had negotiated this offseason when he completed Hartwig’s deal March 18. Included is the $42 million that went to ex-Bears wide receiver Bernard Berrian in Minnesota, the $36 million linebacker Lance Briggs bagged from the Bears, and the $4.9 million Brendon Ayanbadejo received to play special teams in Baltimore.

Rosenhaus will look to pad that figure when he arrives at Halas Hall Tuesday to work on a deal for defensive tackle Tommie Harris. That will be the order of business for the day as general manager Jerry Angelo works to secure one of the cornerstones for the defense longterm. Harris’ rookie contract expires after this season.

Negotiations are worth monitoring as Rosenhaus has had a client pass on the Bears’ offseason program each of the last two seasons. The voluntary program begins Monday. Briggs was a no-show last year, upset by the franchise tag that was placed on him. If Harris can’t reach a deal, he could be the next player to be tagged by the Bears. If so, that would mean he wouldn’t reach free agency until March 2010 at the earliest.

Briggs also skipped out in 2006 after negotiations on a contract broke down just before the draft. Running back Thomas Jones, also repped by Rosenhaus, missed the bulk of the voluntary program that spring also. Rosenhaus has not had a client hold out of training camp or miss any mandatory functions, like veteran minicamp, with the Bears.

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13 Comments

The Bears will probably get this done quick. The big question is going to be guaranteed money. Then again with Tommy's injury history the Bears may try and pinch it a little or a lot. Rosenhaus really has them in a good spot, the fans will not react well if this gets complicated considering last year and this off season. So he may really try to put the squeeze on the Bears, should be interesting we all know how much the Bears and Rosen like one another.

Rosenhaus is a sleezeball, but that shouldn't take away from what Tommie Harris means to the Bears. I think the Raiders screwed up the market with the deal they gave to Tommy Kelly, but that is the new bar for DTs, so that is where the negotiations need to start. I wouldn't mind seeing a deal in the range of $60-65 over 7 years (Kelly got $50mil over 7 years), but they would have to guarantee $20-25 million of that to make the salary palatable (in the range of $5.7-6.5 per year). Tommie is without question the most disruptive force we have had on the defensive line since Dent was in his prime. He is quicker than Mongo and Hampton, and can be every bit as stout at the point of attack. If we can get a consistent performer next to him at the other DT spot, he could be making everyone forget about Warren Sapp as the best DT to ever play in the Cover 2 defense. And could do it in a very short time.

If the reason we stayed out of free agency was to make sure we could re-sign our own stars before they became eligible for free agency, then there is no excuse for not getting this deal done. I figure you get Tommie done now, Hester before the season starts, and that should do it for this offseason. Mark Anderson has to prove that he is better than his second season made him look before he gets extended, so that is a next offseason priority. Is there anyone else on the roster that needs a new deal? Maybe re-working Urlacher's deal, but I have not heard anything about that in quite some time, so I don't know if the issue is active or not. The salary cap is heading up at a ridiculous rate, and by locking up some of this young talent now, the team can send a message that the team isn't like the Cubs used to be, where they just trot out a decent team, and hope that Chicago sports fans are loyal enough to support them. They are keeping championship-caliber players in the fold, and trying to keep themselves competitive by spending money where they know they can get results. We all want the big free agent splash, but if I was given a choice of Michael Turner, Alan Faneca, and Bryant Johnson vs. resigning Tommie Harris, Devin Hester, and giving Urlacher a new deal, I would be hard-pressed to argue against locking up our own guys. Besides, next year will look a lot better in free agency I think, especially if players like Marion Barber get angry and file for free agency.

The front office has been preaching that it is better to lock up your own rather than bring in outsiders, so it is time to put their money where their mouth is. I would be thrilled to hear about this deal before the draft if they can get it done.


don't overpay Harris. He is certainly disruptive and a heck of a dt, but he is an injury riddled dt at this point. He played injured all year and who knows what kind of long term damage that did. He plays with speed and leg injuries to big guys like that quickly drain them of their speed. How good will Harris be in a couple of years if he isn't a speed player anymore? He's smaller than most OG's.

I like him, but I wouldn't pay the farm for himi.

I think its time the Bears get the old check book out for this one. I would like to see the Bears come to an agreement with Tommie Harris right away, but I realize this might not happen. Harris is bar none the best defensive tackle in the game right now. When you draft a player and he turns out good you have to pay them, this is the nature of the beast. Tommie harris would be worth the money the Bears are going to have to pay him, when its said and done he will probably be the highest paid DT in the game and I could live with this, because Harris deserves the money and like I said he is the best in the game right now. The things Harris does on the field for the Bears would be hard to replace, from the constant double teams to his ability to chase down a ball carrier. 1# why I like Harris so much is because the way he played throught pain for the Bears last season, even when the season was basiclly over, Harris still came to play. So come on Angelo pay Haris he will be worth every dime GO BEARS!!

Word is Harris wants 72 mil over six years. Ouch, this is gonna get messy. Can you all say FRANCHISE!!

I say pay him. The injuries that he played through were the direct result of not having anyone playing good beside him. Forget that down the line tag because Warren Sapp just retired after playing 12-13 years and I think that Harris is quicker than Sapp ever was and that is saying a lot. Don't be a downer about a solid soldier who has played his heart out and is a great humanitarian for his age. Other than a bad joke that was really tinged with truthfulness he's been a good citizen for the organization. He's no Tank, so say thanks.

Sorry. I wouldn't overpay for him. He's small and injury prone. Fast? Yes, especially when he's offsides. Comparing him to former greats like Hampton or McMichael is ridiculous. Same with Warren Sapp. There's no way Harris is Warren Sapp! JA should offer him a fair contract, and if not accepted, tag him later (if he's truly showing he's a top flight DT). I'm not sold on Harris as most here. Just my two cents.

Just give Harris the money, hes been the most respected defender next to Urlacher, and elected to 3 straight Pro Bowls.....what more can you ask for?

$72 Million? I think the owners should all pitch in a million to have Al Davis lobotomized and removed from control of the Raiders. He gives $50 million to a scrub, so of course Harris, Haynesworth, and Glenn Dorsey are licking their chops. Sadly, if you go by ability and on-field performance, I would agree that Harris is way better than Tommy Kelly, so the $72 million total dollars is not that far out of line, but no way would I give it over 6 years. 8 years maybe, but not 6. It's criminally insane, but not ridiculously so now that the crazy bar has been set so high by Al and his "just wet my pants" regime...

The only thing we have going for us is that he is under contract, so we wouldn't need the franchise tag for a couple of years. I would be offering $60 million over 7 years, with $10 million in a signing bonus, and another $10-15 guaranteed in roster bonuses over the next 3 years. That is better than any DT has ever gotten, and would be a solid offer. Rosenhaus would be smart to advise Tommie to accept it. The cap keeps rising, so they are all trying to strike while the iron is hot, but considering the value of the 3-technique in the Cover 2, Tommie is crucial to our long term defensive success.

Yeah Tommie needs to stay and has earned a lot of cheese. Question is will the Bears pay it? It's really all going to be about the guaranteed money after that NFL players don't have a lot to hope for, they can be cut or bought out at anytime. The guy is a stud and has played really well for the Bears, he has some injury issues but it's not like he hasn't earned his money. I am sure there are 20 or 30 teams around the league that would love to have him.

While Tommie is perhaps the best defensive player in the NFL when healthy, he's a shadow of himself while hurt, which is what he's been the last 2 years.

I absolutely love the guy, his play, the fact that he's a Christian, etc. . . . but if he can't stay healthy, the Bears can't pay big dollars to him.

I hope the Bears sign Tommy. Hes going to be 24 he still has a ton of upside. Clearly could say he is the best at his possition in the NFC. Hell give him a 100 million and 10 years.

Pay Tommie whatever he ask... there's favor that follows his life. he deserve to get paid...

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on April 6, 2008 11:48 PM.

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