simply does not fit the defensive scheme the Chargers are deploying. He does not have the speed to stay with receivers in the cover-2 and is not asked to play the run as much as he was in the past. The coaches now feel they need a player who will fit that scheme better.
In March of 2000, Harrison restructured his contract extending it through the 2005 season. His cap figure rises in each of the next three seasons (around $4 million) and the Chargers could get some relief from their 2 million over status by releasing him. Harrison, 30, will count more than $4 million against the 2003 cap and team officials believe he is slipping; General Manager John Butler and Coach Marty Schottenheimer
want more productivity if they are to spend that kind of money.
Harrison was suspended one game this year for a hit on Jerry Rice
on Oct. 20th. When he returned to action he seemed a shell of his former self, and no one feared the "Hit Man" as they went across the middle of the field. What was once his trademark turned into being a detriment as he was getting beat with regularity on deep balls. Harrison had 88 tackles on the season, two interceptions and two sacks. He did not force the game changing play at the pace he was expected to and forced just two fumbles.
The secondary could look vastly different next season as the Chargers are also leaning towards releasing Rogers Beckett
who fell out of favor with the coaching staff at the end of the season. Beckett does not have the range to cover the ground required in the cover-2 the Chargers will continue to deploy. A year after netting 93 tackles he had just 36 this season.
Beckett had no interceptions, just two passes defensed and was yanked in favor of Keith Lyle
. He forced one fumble on the season, vs. Houston
, and was otherwise a non factor in defending the pass.
Beckett signed a four-year $2.79 million contract with a $1.79 signing bonus and is entering the final deal of the pact. He was selected in the second round of the 2000 NFL Draft out of Marshall
The release of both players could move cornerback Ryan McNeil
to safety. He has better range in the passing game and at 6-2, 210 pounds, he could be a force stopping the run. He can still stay with receivers on deep patterns and with the emergence of rookie corner Quentin Jammer
and the return of a healthy Tay Cody
, it would be wise to keep his experience in the lineup.
Safety Rodney Harrison, who had perhaps his worst year as a Charger, is on the verge of being let go by San Diego. When John Butler and Marty Schottenheimer sat down to talk with the media about the status of Harrison they declined comment stating anything is possible. It may have been a foregone conclusion then and certainly appears to be now. Rogers Beckett may follow suit shortly thereafter with his production slipping to a whisper.