FLORHAM PARK, NJ — Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum just sured up his team until 2013. By signing inside linebacker David Harris to a 4-year, $36 million with $29.5 million in guarantees, Tannenbaum has locked up all members of the “Cour Four”; offensive linemen D’Brickashaw Ferguson(6 years, $60 million) and Nick Mangold (7 years, $55 million), cornerback Darrelle Revis (4 years, $46 million) and now Harris. His deal holds the largest guarantee on a four-year deal in history for an inside linebacker according to Brian Mackler, one of Harris’ agents.
Harris told reporters that a new deal would be coming soon after the morning practice session, and sure enough by the time the second practice was over, the news had spread about a new deal being down. Feeling confident about a new deal in the near future, Harris pointed to a promise Tannenbaum made him last season.
“Last year, they pretty much gave me their word that I’d be a priority this upcoming year and they followed up on their word. I’d just like to say thank you to them. Today is a great day for me, my family and my wife, Jiali,” Harris told reporters at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, NJ.
Harris was left off to the side as he watched the Jets re-sign Ferguson, Mangold and Revis last season only to be slapped with the team’s franchise tag for this season. They went on to re-sign Santonio Holmes, Antonio Cromartie, Eric Smith and bring in Plaxico Burress before tearing up the franchise tender sheet and issuing Harris a brand-new deal, good through 2014.
“Every player takes it differently. Coming from a humble background, a blue-collar [family], I knew that Mike would come through on his promise,” Harris said. “I just wanted to focus on football and not focus on the contract and the business side of it. I just wanted to go out there and help my teammates win games and I’m glad that it’s all done with.”
A model player, both on and off the field, Tannenbaum reiterated how important it was to bring back their leading tackler since 2007, despite the timing of it all. “Even though with all the madness last week and we were in on dozens of deals, signed a bunch of guys, it was still a very important priority to us and we had obviously communicated that with David’s agents. We had always budgeted for that scenario. So even though we signed Player X, Y, and Z last week, David’s deal was always the priority,” Tannenbaum said.
He would go on to gush about his defensive captain, whom Tannenabum selected in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft out of Michigan:
“He can blitz, cover, [he’s] good in between the tackles. I can say all these good things now that we signed him, but he is a three-down linebacker. In our game now where so many substituted defenses are part of it, that was really important. And for me, from a team building stand point, with the intangibles, how David goes about his work, those are the people you want to reward and celebrate with. It’s such an important message to us, for Rex, Woody and I, that’s the message we are trying to send to the rest of the locker room. Do the things that David does, again, off-season conditioning, OTA’s, mini-camps, all those things are critical to us.”
Tannenbaum, perhaps best known to the Gang Green faithful as Trader Mike, has been making waves for his creative financial tricks to continually sign players to mega-deals and still stay under the year’s salary cap rather than his trading prowess. Upon hearing the news of Holmes’ $50 million deal and Cromartie’s $34 million deal, it was released that both deals would only count for roughly $7.5 million to this year’s cap. The same can be said for the Harris deal. In his first year, Harris will be paid only $4 million a year, a $6.4 million difference from the franchise tender deal he was originally signed to. This leaves more cap space to go out and bring in another guy (Shaun Ellis perhaps?), as well as the ability to franchise another player.
The “Core Four” are locked up, but just don’t use that term in front of Harris, who truly epitomizes what it means to be a leader — not just in the locker room, but in life as well. “I’d like to say there’s really no “Core Four”, there’s a core 20. This team is built around a lot of young guys that are improving,” he said.
Well put, David. He’s already putting that winning team attitude on display. Money well spent by Mike Tannenbaum.
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