In the not-too-distant future, the Detroit Lions are going to have a Damon Harrison Sr.-sized issue they need to deal with. The Pro Bowl (should be Pro Bowl) defensive tackle reportedly wants a new contract, and while we don’t know if he’ll threaten to hold out, it’s only a matter of time before he becomes resolute in his goal to get paid more.
And it’s hard to argue against a raise for Harrison. Even though he’s mostly just a two-down defensive lineman, his dominance when he’s in the game is transformative. A solid nose tackle is absolutely essential in Matt Patricia’s defense, and we saw just how big of difference he made in the running game last year.
But the Lions just made a huge investment in the defensive line by signing Trey Flowers to a five-year, $90 million deal. Starting in 2020, Flowers is going to have a cap hit north of $16 million, making it tough to fit in other contracts, especially with an extension due for a guy like A’Shawn Robinson.
So today’s Question of the Day is:
How much should the Lions be willing to pay Damon Harrison?
My answer: At this point, the going rate for an extension for a top-tier nose tackle is somewhere around $10-11 million a year. I’m not sure I’m willing to go too much further than that.
As mentioned before, as great as Snacks is, he remains mostly a two-down lineman. Paying upwards of $14-15 million for a player that really shouldn’t be playing on passing downs at his age is really just not good investment of money.
That being said, the Lions really can’t afford to lose a defensive lineman of his caliber. Detroit’s depth is weak on the interior, and Harrison has been reliably healthy for the entirety of his career.
Put it all together, and I think Detroit should probably approach around $12 million a year but shouldn’t budge much further than that. It may end up costing them A’Shawn Robinson—which would be a tough loss to take considering he’s six years younger than Snacks—but it’s the safe move for a team looking for defensive stability.