When reports first surfaced that the Detroit Lions were releasing key nose tackle Damon Harrison Sr., it appeared to be a decision based on the veteran’s probable retirement. After the 2019 season, Harrison noted that he wasn’t sure his body could keep up with the game any longer.
And while retirement still may be an option for Harrison, it appears Harrison wants to give it another go in 2020. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press indicated “Harrison has since decided to try and play in 2020,” and the rest of the local beat have supported Birkett’s sources. Even national reporter Tom Pelissero has indicated that Harrison wants to put aside retirement for a year to keep playing next season.
This means that the Lions’ decision was likely performance and money related. After signing a one-year extension prior to the 2019 season, Harrison was due to cost Detroit $11.7 milion in cap space this season. The Lions will save $6.7 million this year but will eat $5 million of dead money because of the early release.
Harrison’s performance took a big decline in 2019, but the nose tackle seemed to blame his injuries for the significant dip in play.
“Fought through some injuries all year and wasn’t able to get back to the form I’m used to,” Harrison admitted after the season finale. “I’ve got too much pride, man. I’ve been doing this too long. So if I can’t be the player that I’m used to being, I think my teammates deserve better, my family deserves better, the fans deserve better.”
Harrison must believe he can return to form to be the dominant run defender he had been his entire career. However, with their decision to release him (which remains unofficial), the Lions apparently do not agree.