Welcome to the NFL, David Harris. The NFL that doesn't reward players who play out their contracts and avoid messy holdouts. This is the NFL that punishes the good soldiers like Jets linebacker David Harris by allowing teams to slap them with ridiculous franchise tags instead of making long-term commitments to them like they deserve.
While Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum and owner Woody Johnson spent last offseason chasing Darrelle Revis around, David Harris showed up to camp in the final year of his contract ready to work. Revis, who had three years remaining on his contract, held out of camp and eventually got himself the big extension he had been kicking and screaming for.
As the NFL owners and the Players Association head into what will most certainly be a drawn out CBA negotiation, there will be a ton of topics on the table for discussion. Extending the regular season to 18 games, fixing a players pension that doesn't work and agreeing on a salary cap that works for both parties.
The elimination of the franchise tag needs to be added to that list. The average shelf life of an NFL player is roughly 3.5 seasons. Harris has passed his expiration date and still continues to produce, leading one the league's best defenses in tackles the last two seasons. Why should he be punished for being productive and being the model employee?
I'll tell you why. Being the class act in the NFL is for suckers. It pains me to say it but it's the truth. Team players finish tagged while savvy businessmen like Darrelle Revis are rewarded handsomely. There are dozens of fans and critics who destroyed Revis for his actions last offseason but he looks like a genius after today's news. Today is one of those days where you realize how much of a business this game really is.
The Harris-Revis situation is proof that you just cannot count on an NFL team to take care of you. Being a professional who plays out his contract like a man gets you a franchise tag instead of the millions in guaranteed money that you earned.
For players like David Harris, we can only hope that the new CBA fixes this. Until then, every fan should take a look at this situation and no longer refer to holdouts as greedy. They just know how to play the game. Not so much the one on the field as much as the one off of it.