Charles Harris earned a nice contract with a breakout season, but should the Detroit Lions be the team to give it to him?
In his first offseason on the job, Lions general manager Brad Holmes prioritized the re-signing of edge rusher Romeo Okwara, with a new contract worth $37 million over three years in the early hours of the 2021 free agency period. In a further effort to add to the pass rush, former first-round pick Charles Harris was signed to a one-year, $1.75 million deal.
Okwara suffered a torn Achilles’ tear in Week 4, which cost him the rest of the 2021 season. He’ll be back in the fold next season, and Harris stepped up in his absence when the Lions really needed it.
Over the first four seasons of his career with the Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons, Harris totaled 6.5 sacks. In his first season with the Lions, he had 7.5 sacks with 10 tackles for loss. He had some quiet stretches, but his performance in Week 15 against the Arizona Cardinals (12 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, three tackles for loss) particularly stood out.
Harris has earned a multi-year deal this offseason. The Lions would surely like to keep him, but there are other factors in play.
Should the Lions pay up to keep Charles Harris?
The best place to start in answering this question is a market assessment. According to Spotrac, Harris’ projected market value off the top is a four-year deal worth $8.6 million a year. Yannick Ngakoue, Shaq Lawson, Carl Nassib and Romeo Okwara were used as comps. After adjusting for those comps, Spotract landed on a two-year deal worth just shy of $19.8 million for Harris.
With the No. 2 overall pick in April’s draft, the Lions are in line to take an edge rusher like Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux. That prospect may reduce the need to go too far to retain Harris, but a hole in the pass rush is in line to be created.
Over the last two seasons, Trey Flowers has battled injuries and totaled 3.5 sacks in 14 games. Holmes hinted at a decision to move on from the veteran in his press conference right after the season. The cap implications pull both ways in terms of cap savings and dead money, but there’s at least a coin-flip chance Flowers has played his last snap as a Lion.
The question of whether to resign Charles Harris is less about him, and more about the big picture of the Lions’ plans at edge rusher. Has he earned an opportunity continue putting his status as first-round bust to rest? Absolutely. But if the market for his services gets too hot, the Lions’ brass may have to look elsewhere to potential options inside and outside the organization while saving cap dollars for other needs.