Veteran cornerback Al Harris can still play, but he didn’t fit into the Green Bay Packers plans.
That was the message from coach Mike McCarthy after the Packers released Harris, on Monday.
“We made a decision based on the overall depth and future of our roster. A number of different variables went into that decision,” McCarthy said.
Harris reportedly looked good during the three weeks he’s practiced with the team and had worked his way back into football shape, something McCarthy admitted, but that wasn’t enough for the Packers.
“As far as getting into an evaluation, I thought he progressed throughout the three weeks. It was important for him to get back onto the field, get into the football movements, the competitive drills, the ability to tug and pull in space and things like that. But I thought he did an excellent job of getting himself back in shape and so forth. This is not a physical decision. This is a big-picture roster decision,” McCarthy said.
If you read between the lines, the Packers ultimately released Harris because they knew he wouldn’t be a contributor on special teams. They also like their depth at cornerback and don’t want to cut a younger player in favor of Harris, who will be 36 next month.
“The big picture, as far as your overall roster, all those variables are part of the decision. There was a lot of conversation. We actually broke and made the final decision about 10:30 this morning. You look at the health of your team, the development of your younger players, special teams, all that was part of the conversation.”
In Harris’ absence, Tramon Williams has developed into a top-flight cornerback and Harris wasn’t going to take the starting job from him.
The Packers nickel back, rookie Sam Shields, has also played well and is a special teams contributor. Behind Shields, the Packers have Jarrett Bush, Brandon Underwood and Pat Lee. Those players are 26, 24, and 26, respectively, and all play on multiple special teams units.
Harris is expected to be claimed off waivers.