Chicago Bears Insider: Should Harris Stay or Should He Go?

Bryan DietzlerSenior Analyst IFebruary 6, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 16:  Tommie Harris #91 of the Chicago Bears reacts after a sack of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck #8 of the Seattle Seahawks in the 2011 NFC divisional playoff game at Soldier Field on January 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Now that the Bears season is over, it’s time to start thinking about which players are going to be around in 2011 and which players will be aren’t.  There are several contracts coming to an end for the Bears while there are other contracts that are attached to players that may have gone past their “expiration date” and are no longer viable options as starters or contributors on the team.

One of those players is defensive tackle Tommie Harris.  Harris came to the Bears as a rookie defensive tackle early in the 2004 NFL Draft (he was selected 14th overall) out of the University of Oklahoma.  Early in his career, Harris was voted to the Pro Bowl three times and was named All-Pro twice.  He was a force to be reckoned with in the middle of the Bears defense and was a big reason why they had so much success in the 2005 and 2006 seasons.

Injuries ended up stealing some of his ability away from him and after the Bears run to the Super Bowl in 2006, he was not the player that he was the first two seasons he was in Chicago.  From 2007 to 2009, Harris not only struggled on the field, but off of it as well.  He was suspended for a game, kicked out of a game and was made inactive by the coaching staff.

After such promise, how could Harris, one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL, go downhill so quickly?  Injuries are the biggest reason why he has declined, but his attitude and desire to play (and give it 100 percent on the field) seems to have been affected as well.   He’s not the player the Bears drafted back in 2004 any longer.

Harris is due to get a hefty bunch of money from the Bears and just isn’t worth the kind of money that he will be paid for the remainder of his contract.  Chicago might be better served by cutting him lose and then trying to pick up another player that has less wear and tear on his body and has a better attitude than the one that Harris has developed over the past two seasons.

Harris has stated that he wants to remain in Chicago, but would he be willing to take a pretty significant pay cut in order to stay there?  Probably not.  The Bears are going to want to use the money to bring in some players that they really need, especially along the offensive line. Also, they will want to bring someone in to replace Harris, should they let him go.

So what do they do?  They should cut their losses and let Harris go saving money and saving their pride.  They should let him have a chance with another team while adding someone that can help them out better on the defensive line.  Adding someone who has no or an extremely limited injury history is a must, and they can do that through the draft or perhaps through the limited free agency opportunities they will have.


What are your thoughts?  Should the Bears keep Harris or let him go?