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Harris has a particularly big target on his #27 jersey, as
his departure would save a cool $2 million against the cap. That’s a pretty big
number for a player who is not a starter.
Well, it’s not in the plans for him to be a starter, anyway.
But we saw last year how much things can change.
It was expected that he would just start the first couple of
games while first-round draftee Carlos Rogers got his feet wet as a nickel back
and then the two would switch roles. As it turned out, Rogers did go into the
starting role in for the third game of the season against Seattle, but only
because Harris was inactive with a calf injury. After Harris was healthy, he
started in seven straight games before yielding to Rogers in Week 13. Rogers
only lasted two games before being sidelined with a torn bicep and Harris
started the last three games.
If you were keeping count you know that adds up to 11 of the
Redskins 16 regular-season games that Walt Harris started. You’d want to think
twice, maybe three or four times, about getting rid of someone who started that
much in on a team whose strength was defense. The team was 7-4 with him
starting. In addition, even if he’s not one of the top two corners, the nickel
back is nearly as important as the starter with all of the three- and
four-receiver sets teams use these days.
And it’s inarguable that he made his presence felt on the
field. He had 55 tackles, more than Rogers or Shawn Springs, plus an
interception and a forced fumble.
His detractors would counter that Harris made so many
tackles because he plays so far off the opposing receiver. That allows a lot of
completions in front of him making the tackles necessary.
The bottom line on this is, well, the bottom line. With the
team struggling to save every dollar to get under the cap, a $2 million savings
for even a sometime starter who will be 32 by the time the 2006 season starts
is too much to ignore. The Redskins need to let Harris go and, if he doesn’t
want to come back for a salary at or near the vet minimum, go with some younger
players to back up Springs and Rogers. The Broncos did OK with rookies Darrent Williams and Domonique Foxworthy playing key roles at the cornerback position
last year and the Redskins may need to do something similar in 2006.
Note on John Hall:
article earlier this week, I came down in favor of keeping kicker John
Hall. At the time, the savings for cutting him were said to be $780,000. At
that number, the view here was, he was worth keeping.
However, our resident capologist here at WarpathInsiders.com
has found some new information and it turns out that the cut savings for Hall
is slightly over $1 million. That leap into seven figures of savings makes what
was a close call in favor of keeping him into an easy one to cut him loose.
Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to
Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book chronicles every game the Redskins
played from 1937 through 2001. It is available at www.RedskinsGames.com