Cleveland Browns’ running back Jerome Harrison has had a hard time earning respect. Why though, is a mystery to me and I’m sure to others as well.
When Harrison was a senior at Washington State, he led the nation in rushing yards with 1,900. He also set the Pac-10 record for consecutive 100 yard games with 16. Still, Harrison was only selected in the fifth round of the 2006 NFL Draft, taken by the Browns.
After a nice preseason his rookie year, Harrison had a hard time getting on the field. In seasons two and three, he averaged 6.2 and 7.2 yards per carry respectively, but had only 57 total carries.
Why not more?
After his best season last year, Harrison gained 862 yard rushing and tied for the team lead with 34 passes caught. He also scored seven touchdowns and broke Jim Brown's team rushing record with 286 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Browns finished the season on a four game winning streak as Harrison literally carried the offense. Throughout his four year career, whenever he has been given the ball, he’s produced.
With new team president Mike Holmgren and new general manager Tom Heckert, Harrison once again must prove himself.
Instead of getting a new multi-year contract, Harrison was given a second round tender, worth $1.759 million for next season. Being a restricted free agent, Harrison has little bargaining power. He will have to prove himself to the new management team if he wants a long term deal.
Harrison returned to the Browns' OTAs last Monday. Still without a contract, he signed an injury waiver, and found himself running with the second team.
But competition doesn’t scare Harrison. Rookie Montario Hardesty has been getting reps with the first unit and has looked good. Harrison has said he wants to remain a Cleveland Brown and that he likes the fans and the city.
As for a new contract, I guess he’ll have to earn it again, along with maybe a little respect.