In the avalanche of free agent moves, the Jets taking 31-year-old veteran linebacker David Harris off the market
may not rank among the most newsworthy, but it will certainly help new head coach Todd Bowles sleep easier.
Bowles’ priority this offseason realistically had to be bringing back Harris, who, like Larry Foote did in Arizona,
should provide a dependable voice in the huddle and a solid presence on the field. Harris’ comments after re-
signing leave no doubt as to how valued he was by Bowles and new general manager Mike Mccagnan.
"After hearing the plans and vision of Coach [Todd] Bowles and [general manager] Mike Maccagnan, there was no doubt
I wanted to return, help win a Super Bowl with the Green & White, and retire a Jet," Harris said Friday.
The reality is that had the Jets not brought Harris back, he was likely headed to western New York for a reunion
with former head coach Rex Ryan. Instead, he’ll be anchoring the middle for Gang Green. But where does the ageing
linebacker go from here?
The past few seasons have seen a plethora of productive linebackers over the age of 30 making an impact; as such,
waning production shouldn’t be a major concern for Harris’ fantasy owners. He has led the team in tackles in seven
of his eight seasons, only falling short in 2008 due to a groin injury that forced him to miss five games.
His durability is a factor that will have endeared him to the incoming coaching staff, but there was no hiding his
declining prowess against the pass last season. If you look at the numbers of the contract, Harris is scheduled to
make $15m over the first two years of the three-year, $21.5m deal. This gives the team flexibility to presumably
part ways in the third year if his play declines, but the bigger issue is whether the Jets paid too much for a
player who will only slow down in the coming years.
How well will Harris truly fit in Bowles’ complex blitz schemes? That remains to be seen. In Arizona, Bowles
implemented six defensive backs more than any other defensive coordinator, removing a linebacker from the field in
these subpackages. Harris will have to be utilised in the right ways in such packages to avoid becoming a liability
on passes between the hashes that teams like the Patriots use as a staple of their attack.
Purely from a fantasy standpoint, the wisest course of action might be to follow the money. The Jets, having forked
out such large guarantees over the first two years of Harris’ deal, are unlikely to cut bait. As such, Harris is
likely to be given every chance to be an every-down player until such a time as his effectiveness wanes.
Based on his success getting the most out of Arizona’s personnel – adjusting the scheme to maximise his players’
impact – Bowles should be given the benefit of the doubt and Harris should be the beneficiary. Additional pass rush
opportunities should be on the cards for the 31-year-old, an area of his game he has been quite effective in for
Ultimately time will tell the wisdom of this move, but if the Jets’ new head honchos are letting the money do the
talking, their intentions seem abundantly clear – Harris is poised to be the foundation of their defensive
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