With the potential departure of Jaguars defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, Jacksonville could have their hands in several pots for defensive tackles over the offseason.
Yesterday, a report from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero indicated that the Detroit Lions are releasing veteran defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison.
Harrison began his career with the New York Jets before signing a lucrative four-year, $46.2M contract with $24M in guarantees. Harrison is widely been known as one of the best run-defenders in the NFL, grading out as a top-10 (often top five) player in run stop percentage according to Pro Football Focus from 2014-2018.
Harrison has accumulated 482 tackles (292 solo) and 11 sacks during his eight-year career.
Damon Harrison has been an immovable object in the NFL throughout his career. When healthy he’s one of the best run defenders in the league. pic.twitter.com/RKZ70up0lt— Demetrius Harvey (@Demetrius82) February 21, 2020
Harrison, 31, would ultimately be traded by the New York Giants to the Lions midway through the 2018 season. Due to injuries and general wear and tear, Harrison’s production took a nose dive during the 2019 season which has ultimately led to his release. The Lions saved at least $6.75M by releasing the veteran defensive tackle.
Damon Harrison's 2019 regression in GIF form. Up and right are good. He was one of the best run-stopping DTs from 2016-17 and still made a jump in 2018, a season in which he played 17 regular season games. This helps you see both why the Lions extended him and why they cut him. pic.twitter.com/Q82Jh2ve65— Bryce Rossler (@btrossler) February 21, 2020
If the Jaguars opt to decline Dareus’ option for the 2020 season thus making him an unrestricted free agent in the new league year, an already gaping hole at the defensive tackle position could become bigger. The Jaguars will need to address the position at some point and Harrison, when healthy, is still one of the best run defenders in the NFL — an area the Jaguars were extremely deficient in last season.
Due to his circumstances last season it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for Harrison to take a simple “prove it” deal which would allow the team to be cost-effective while addressing a major need along the defense. After nearly retiring following last season the defensive tackle has made it known he still would like to play during the 2020 season.
While the position is bound to be addressed during the draft, there would be no limitations in the team bringing in players to compete for, or even start during the 2020 season while the rookie learns and ultimately supplants the projected starter. If Harrison is able to be brought in at a reasonable price, even considering his injuries it is worth the risk.
The Jaguars may opt to bring back Dareus on a cheaper deal, however there is no guarantee the veteran defensive tackle would want to return to the team even though he has expressed his desire to play for head coach Doug Marrone in the past. Acquiring proven, veteran talent should be one of the Jaguars’ main priorities heading into the 2020 offseason.
The Jaguars could do no harm in simply examining all of their options heading into the 2020 season.
Let us know in the comments what you think regarding the team’s plans for the 2020 offseason.