Damon “Snacks” Harrison – the 31-year-old free agent former All-Pro defensive tackle – will play instead of retiring in 2020, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported this week. And, in that report:
It’s no surprise the Bears have interest in Harrison – he’s made a ton of sense for them ever since Eddie Goldman opted out of the 2020 season back in July. But the Bears’ interest might need to be heightened after defensive tackle John Jenkins was placed on injured reserve with a thumb injury this week.
The Bears’ defensive line still has talent, led by Akiem Hicks along with Bilal Nichols and Roy Robertson-Harris (reserve Brent Urban, too, has had some good moments). But Jenkins was brought in to be Goldman’s backup at nose tackle; the Bears, now, are without either of the guys they hoped to have at that spot in 2020.
Nichols only played 29 snaps at nose tackle in 2019; so far in 2020, he’s played 18 there. He’s a good player who can hold his own, but also might be better used elsewhere on the line. So the Bears should have interest in Harrison, and with the Jenkins injury, should do whatever they can to sign him. And replacing Jenkins with Daniel McCullers, signed off the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad this week, is more likely a band-aid, not a solution.
The Bears’ run defense has been fine to start 2020, but major challenges lie ahead with the Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers all on the schedule. Maybe Jenkins will be back for those games against the Vikings and Packers in the second half of the Bears’ schedule, and even if the Bears were to sign Harrison, he might not be available for Week 4’s meeting against the brawling Colts offensive line and running back Jonathan Taylor.
But that doesn’t mean Harrison couldn’t still help. Consider this: At 6-foot-3, 350 pounds, Harrison might be able to help the slow-starting Danny Trevathan get back on track.
I remember a conversation I had with Trevathan back in 2018 about the importance of a double-team-soaking nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. Could that scheme succeed without someone like Goldman in the middle?
“No way possible,” Trevathan told me. “I have not seen it, and I don’t think I want to.”
Trevathan’s now seeing it, and while it doesn’t completely explain his poor start to the 2020 season, it might explain some of it. There’s a reason Trevathan called Goldman his “best bud, best pal, best bro forever.”
The trick here for the Bears, though, is even if they’re interested in Harrison, they’re not his only suitor. Schefter reported Harrison will visit the Seattle Seahawks next week, meaning there’s a chance he never leaves the Pacific Northwest (the Seahawks, by the way, just might be the best team in the NFC right now. Who wouldn’t want to join them?). The Packers have interest, too.
Harrison’s made a little over $43 million in his career but has only played in one playoff game. If he wants to join a team that’s a good bet to make the playoffs – even though the Bears are 2-0 – the Seahawks and Packers look like better bets.
So it’s not as simple as saying the Bears should sign Harrison. He has to want to sign with the Bears, too.
But if he does? Go get some Snacks, Ryan Pace.