Damon “Snacks” Harrison held out of OTAs and minicamps during last year’s offseason to get a contract extension from the Detroit Lions.
He eventually got that extension. Now, the team is releasing the former All-Pro defensive tackle, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
One of the top interior run-stuffers in the league for years, Harrison posted 49 total tackles last campaign — his lowest total since his rookie year — for a Detroit defense that was 13th in the league against the run.
The Lions will save $6,718,750 in salary cap space by releasing Harrison. Detroit had a cap hit of $11,718,750 on Harrison if they kept the defensive tackle on the roster for the 2020 season.
Harrison started 15 matches for the Lions in 2019, finishing with 49 tackles, two sacks and three passes defensed. He had 5.5 sacks and 49 tackles in 25 games with the Lions, who acquired him for a conditional 2019 fifth-round draft-pick from the New York Giants prior to the 2018 trade deadline. A First Team All-Pro with the Giants in 2016, Harrison had 86 tackles and 2.5 sacks at nose tackle that season.
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Harrison tearfully told reporters at the end of last campaign that he is considering retirement this offseason, and that is reportedly still a possibility.
If this is indeed it for Harrison, it will have been an impressive career for a player who was undrafted out of the NAIA’s William Penn University in Iowa (student population: 1,050).
Harrison’s release continues the Lions’ trend of parting ways with key defensive players. The Lions traded long-time safety Quandre Diggs (and a 2021 seventh-round pick) to the Seattle Seahawks for a 2020 fifth-round pick at the trade deadline last season, just one year after Diggs signed a three-year, $20.4 million contract extension.
The Lions have also talked to multiple teams about a Darius Slay trade this offseason after fielding offers for the Pro Bowl cornerback at the 2019 trade deadline. Slay is about to enter the final year of a four-year, $48.15 million extension, becoming a free agent after the season.
The Lions are looking to rebuild a defense that finished 26th in points allowed and 31st in yards allowed. Trading Harrison just expedited that process.
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