New York Giants Could Reinvigorate the Career of Tommie Harris

James DudkoFeatured ColumnistJuly 25, 2011

CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 12: Tommie Harris #91 of the Chicago Bears pressures Shaun Hill #14 of the Detroit Lions during the NFL season opening game at Soldier Field on September 12, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Lions 19-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The New York Giants possess perhaps the deepest defensive line rotation in football. But veteran Tommie Harris could still make a valuable contribution to the Big Blue defense in 2011.

At the end of February the Chicago Bears surprisingly released Harris. Injuries have contributed to his production falling in recent seasons. But Harris is still capable of wreaking havoc from the three-technique position.

The Giants are well-stocked on the edges of their line. Bookends Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck are one of the most feared pass rush tandems in the game.  Exciting youngster Jason Pierre-Paul is a capable reserve who has shown the potential to one day join the ranks of the league's elite.

At defensive tackle the picture is less clear. Starter Barry Cofield seems intent on exploring his options on the free agent market. Backup Rocky Bernard has failed to make any significant impact in two seasons.

The Giants are set to rely on second-year man Linval Joseph, who failed to convince in his first season and promising rookie Marvin Austin.

When the G-Men selected Austin in the second round of the draft, the pick received a lot of fanfare. While Austin looks a talented prospect, he does have character concerns. The hulking tackle also sat out last season serving an NCAA-imposed suspension.

CHAPEL HILL, NC - NOVEMBER 7:  Marvin Austin #9 of the North Carolina Tar Heels rushes against Brian Moore #68 of the Duke Blue Devils at Kenan Stadium on November 7, 2009 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

This leaves defensive coordinator Perry Fewell reliant on two raw prospects to supplement the efforts of Chris Canty. Snapping up a proven commodity like Harris would be a smart move.

Canty is still more of a two-gap style of lineman. He is an extremely powerful player and outstanding run defender. But the Giants front seven could greatly benefit from pairing Canty with a more dynamic partner.

Harris fits the mould. He is an active three-technique who uses a quick takeoff and excellent leverage and strength to penetrate the guard-tackle gap. When healthy Harris is a threat to disrupt the line of scrimmage on almost every snap.

Adding more of a rush threat at the interior of the line would increase the potency of the Giants defense. Harris could help ease the burden on the defensive ends to generate most of the pressure.

If Harris can return to his marauding best he would help ensure more one on one matchups for members of the Giants defensive line to exploit.

Injuries have certainly taken their toll in recent seasons. Harris has managed a mere 21 starts and four sacks since 2008.

But the 6'3", 295-pound former Oklahoma prodigy is still only 28 and could find a new lease of life in Perry Fewell's schemes.

Harris would be especially useful in a situational role, adding his pocket collapsing skills to the nickel fronts. Harris would be a great addition to Fewell's nickel sub package, which features three defensive ends.

Signing Harris carries some risk, but he has the attributes and experience to help ease the transition of the young defensive tackles on the roster and be a useful asset for the Giants defense.