Tommie Harris' Future With the Bears

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Tommie Harris...  What to do with Tommie Harris?  His salary, though not as out of line as many think, is still a large chunk of change.  But if he's wreaking havoc like the Pro Bowl Tommie, does anyone really care how much his deal is worth?  Many people have floated the idea of trading him, myself included, but is there a market for him and would any potential deal bring anything worth the salary relief?  The Cover 2 defense looks to be in place again next year, so that 3 technique tackle is a necessity.  If it isn't Harris, is there someone on the current roster that can be that guy?  Questions, questions, questions...

For the record here's the info on his contract;  Last summer he signed a four year $40 million extension that takes him through 2012.  $18 million of the deal is guaranteed and next year he's set to make $1.235 million (and a $2.5 million roster bonus in June if he makes the roster), in 2011 he'll make $2.3125 million, and in 2012 he'll make $2.5 million.  A lot, yes, but not untradeable.

I think the best case scenario for all involved, would be if Harris were 100% healthy for 2010 and was able to play at that Pro Bowl form.  But how realistic is that?  The last two seasons he's started slow, not to mention the "benchings" he received in each of the last two years, and hasn't really showed any consistency in being the player he was.  He's showed flashes, but he hasn't been able to maintain it.  Against the Rams he didn't play as much as in weeks past because his knee was acting up.  Asides from the best case scenario, here are a few other possibilities for Tommie as they finish out the season.

1)  He keeps this upward swing in play going for the rest of '09 and gives some hope to the Bears that 2010 will be a big year for him.  If Harris were to finish strong the Bears would have some options.

            a) Ride it out and see if he can regain his old form.  Let's face it, if he's right, he's one of the best DT's in the league, and why move away from a potentially dominating force inside.

            b)  If he can finish strong, it'll be the highest his trade value will be since 2006.  I don't think they'll get too much for him (a late second or third round draft pick at most).  In trading him the Bears will have to find another team that is lacking at DT, a team that is willing to take on the salary, and a team that really believes in Tommie.

            c)  Keep him and reevaluate him before the 2010 trade deadline.  This could backfire if he regresses next season, but if he looks good a trade could present itself.  Then again if he's looking good why trade him?

2)  He continues to show flashes of his brilliance, but no consistency.

            a)  Trade him, but what would he bring as a shell of his old self?  A sixth or a fifth round pick at best?  Finding a willing trade partner with him not going good will prove to be tough.

            b)  Cut him this off season.  They'll be no stud DT coming in the draft, so is Marcus Harrison gonna be that guy?  Israel IdonijeJarron Gilbert

            c)  Keep him because even at less that 100% he's still the best you have.  I really think this may be the way the Bears go.

I guess one other scenario could play itself out.  He could keep struggling with injuries the rest of this season and show no signs of improvement this off season.  Then the writing would be on the wall in regards to his future.  Honestly I hope he can bounce back from his recent struggles, everything I've read and heard about him off the field paints him in a good light.

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