Chicago Sun-Times

Angelo: Bears will pay Harris $6.67 million roster bonus

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Get this straight: If Tommie Harris does not return to form as a top defensive tackle, it's not because of a lingering left knee issue. General manager Jerry Angelo stated that the Bears are likely to pick up the $6.67 million roster bonus in Harris contract that is due Feb. 27, the first day of the league year, and the hope is the three-time Pro Bowler will again be a consistent, dominant force under new line coach Rod Marinelli.

Speaking with fellow Mully & Hanley (listen to the entire interview here) earlier this morning on the Score, 670-AM, Angelo didn't leave doubt the Bears will pick up the big bonus, part of the $40 million, four-year extension Harris signed last summer. The deal included only $10 million in guaranteed money and the Bears loaded more than $20 million of the deal into roster bonuses to provide protection moving forward and spread out the money for purposes of the salary cap.

"We're going to talk about everything,'' Angelo said. ``But I don't see any reason why we would not [pay the roster bonus.''

Harris had five sacks last season and according to Angelo, he was third on the line in terms of play time behind only ends Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye. That's despite being suspended in Week 4 by coach Lovie Smith for the Philadelphia game.

"Tommie played a lot of football for us last year,'' Angelo said. "I don't want there to be a misnomer that we didn't get a lot of play time from Tommie. We did get a lot of play time from him. I felt like about midway through the season he started to kick in, so to speak, and felt like he was playing good football for us the latter part of the season. We know what Tommie can do and obviously health is a big part of it. We did some things with Tommie during the season that were different than what we've done with him before in terms of training him and I felt that they were paying big dividends with him as the season went on.''

Of the things the Bears did, the most noticeable was to ease off Harris in practice. He didn't take the field on Wednesdays during the season and then was eased back into the work on Thursdays for his left knee, which he had arthroscopic surgery on a year ago. Angelo sounded as if any focus on his knee is overblown.

"Tommie is fine,'' he said. "We would never have signed Tommie if we didn't think he was healthy. He had to pass our physical obviously, which he did. Tommie has had some issues physically speaking but we worked through those. All players have something. It's not like he's isolated. What I have to look at, based on our medical people, is how they feel about him going forward. We feel good about him going forward, part of it is how we're training him, what we're doing for him. And then how compliant he is with all of this."

Compliant. That's how Harris got himself suspended. Throughout his career, he's been notorious for being late to meetings and training sessions, and that was the final straw for Smith. Angelo makes it clear that staying healthy and doing the work is up to Harris just as much as it is the team. But he sees big things ahead for his first-round pick from 2004.

"We feel real good about Tommie,'' Angelo said. :We feel real good about Rod Marinelli and what he can do to continue Tommie's development. He is very, very important in terms of our scheme on defense.

"I think it's going to be a real good marriage from him and Rod."

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6 Comments

Tommie Harris is one of the most overrated players not only on the Bears, but in the whole league. The McCaskey family has got to be going nuts paying this guy this big of a bonus and contract. And for what ? Purely for his reputation, certainly not for his production. Doesn't practice, late for meetings, gets suspended, plays about half the plays, periodically surly with the press. Who needs this b.s.? In 2009, he either plays like a 40 million dollar man or, following the season, he gets cut and gets sent on his merry way. I want production 'on the field', not in the reputation dept. Produce, or get cut loose, and let some other sucker team pay him. Get people into Chicago that 'Produce', and if Angelo can't follow through with this philosophy, then, in 2010, He is the one that will be on the clock !

Harris could be an all pro hall of fame material if he can screw the lid on right.

Seems to me Harris acts very immature and he is not a team leader.

Tommie Harris could be one of the greatest icons in the history of the Chicago Bear franchise but it better start soon because if he continues to act like a 19 year old he will never make it.

Warren Sapp seems to sense that Tommie could have it all and with Sapp as a mentor I hope Tommie finds his way, dedicates to the work load needed to be a true superstar and develops into what he has the physical talent to become, the best in the league. Right now his production he is middle of the league at best.

I agree to a certain extent, r lott. You have to take into account that DT is really a reputation-based position, not unlike the Center on offense. It's mostly about "disruption" or "stoutness" rather than statistics. So in Tommie's defense, it's hard to judge him based on the numbers, unlike say a DE. In light of that, the guy who I'd like to see cut is Adawale Ogunleye. Now there's a player who hasn't played up to his contract. I would replace him with a legit NFL pass rusher (via FA or trade - NOT the draft), and then move Alex Brown (whose lack of double-digit sacks and outstanding play against the run are better suited to the left side) to his position. With a real pass rusher on the line Tommie Harris' production would be much more noticeable. For one thing, he'd probably get more sacks (because the opposing lineman would be concerned about the other guy). Also, Tommie's not an overpowering guy. His production comes from his quickness. If he is indeed healthy, having a more productive lineman next to him would give him more opportunity to surprise people with his burst.

That said, if Harris doesn't have a Pro Bowl caliber season next year, I'd send him packing as r lott (should I refer to you as Ronnie?) suggests. Anyone notice a big dropoff when Marcus Harrison played his spot? In fact, you'd have to be looking at the numbers on their backs to tell the difference. They're very similar in style and production. Not being a first-round pick, Harrison will always have to prove himself in the NFL in order to make the big bucks (not to mention guaranteed money like Tommie's). A talented player like him who maintains that hunger is more valuable than a high-paid Diva like Harris any day.

Techsupport: In the Tampa 2 the Three Tech DT is actaully resposible for penitration and backfield disruption. You rely on him more than any other player on the front four to disrupt the QB. As for stats tell John Randell he didn't put up big stats, tell Warren Sapp he didn't put up stats. Both guys played Under Tackle in a 4-3, Randle was the best 3 tech I ever saw. Thats what Harris needs to be in this defense. Unfortunatly Harris is more Corey Simon than he is John Randle or Warren Sapp. Harris lacks that crazy motor Randle had and Sapp was actually faster and stronger than Harris, not to say Harris doesn't show promis but his knee issue and injury issue is a big concern.

The Bears have the weakest schedule in the NFL and don't play much in the way of great lines next season. If Harris can stay Healthy, get in shape, and do what Rod tells him to do and keep his motor going at 200% he should have a great year.

They keep saying that Tommie is fine. Yet all I see is a guy playing with one good leg.

The one constant from all is:
Next year is it for alot of Bears players/coaches/managers. These guys need to produce or get fired, I have alot of faith in Sapp, I always thought he had too much mouth but when I saw him on NFL Network I saw a different person. I feel he and Rod will get Harris motivated. Harris needs someone to back him like this and actually Lovie probably saw it and got it going.
I agree on Og - he needs to go, and Alex at LE would be the idea, with a great RE.
Some of this deadwoood needs to get cut now not next year. How many great players get suspended for a game like that? except for guys like Pacman???

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on January 16, 2009 10:25 AM.

Bears' GM Angelo takes to the airwaves, talks quarterback, Tommie Harris was the previous entry in this blog.

Angelo calls quarterback "Achilles' heel under my watch" is the next entry in this blog.

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