3. DE Charles Harris
Harris saved his career from certified first-round bust territory in 2021, when he led the Lions with 7.5 sacks. The team rewarded that breakthrough with a two-year deal last offseason.
Harris started this season slowly, with one sack in the first four games. Then a groin injury cost him five of the next seven games, and he clearly was not healthy in the two games he did play over that stretch given how little he saw the field (24 total snaps).
Harris landed on IR with the groin issue heading into Week 13. While he would have been eligible to return late in the season, the fact he didn’t speaks to the condition of his groin and the emergence of rookie James Houston almost perfectly in line with his absence.
The Lions can part ways with Harris fairly easily this offseason, if they want to. His role in the edge rusher mix looking toward next season is unclear. A nearly $8 million cap hit is pretty expensive for a backup, let alone someone who hasn’t been particularly good except for one season in his career.
The Lions definitely hoped Harris could repeat what he did in 2021 this year, hence why they gave him a multi-year deal to stay. They ended up very wrong, albeit with a seemingly pretty significant injury as a factor. But Harris was not good when he was healthy early.
What Harris did with his career on the ropes in 2021 ultimately shouldn’t have been even a rough baseline for expectations this year. But it was easy to put expectations there, and he fell way short.