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Cut or Keep Walt Harris

Feb 19, 2006, 5:52 PM EST

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Cut or keep: Walt Harris

With the salary cap deadline fast approaching and the Redskins some $18 million over the projected cap, there are some tough choices to be made. Some players that the Redskins might otherwise want to keep may have to get let go. Today we look at the merits of cutting or keeping cornerback Walt Harris.

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net

Harris has a particularly big target on his #27 jersey, as his departure would save a cool $2 million against the cap. That’s a pretty big number for a player who is not a starter.

Well, it’s not in the plans for him to be a starter, anyway. But we saw last year how much things can change.

It was expected that he would just start the first couple of games while first-round draftee Carlos Rogers got his feet wet as a nickel back and then the two would switch roles. As it turned out, Rogers did go into the starting role in for the third game of the season against Seattle, but only because Harris was inactive with a calf injury. After Harris was healthy, he started in seven straight games before yielding to Rogers in Week 13. Rogers only lasted two games before being sidelined with a torn bicep and Harris started the last three games.

If you were keeping count you know that adds up to 11 of the Redskins 16 regular-season games that Walt Harris started. You’d want to think twice, maybe three or four times, about getting rid of someone who started that much in on a team whose strength was defense. The team was 7-4 with him starting. In addition, even if he’s not one of the top two corners, the nickel back is nearly as important as the starter with all of the three- and four-receiver sets teams use these days.

And it’s inarguable that he made his presence felt on the field. He had 55 tackles, more than Rogers or Shawn Springs, plus an interception and a forced fumble.

His detractors would counter that Harris made so many tackles because he plays so far off the opposing receiver. That allows a lot of completions in front of him making the tackles necessary.

The bottom line on this is, well, the bottom line. With the team struggling to save every dollar to get under the cap, a $2 million savings for even a sometime starter who will be 32 by the time the 2006 season starts is too much to ignore. The Redskins need to let Harris go and, if he doesn’t want to come back for a salary at or near the vet minimum, go with some younger players to back up Springs and Rogers. The Broncos did OK with rookies Darrent Williams and Domonique Foxworthy playing key roles at the cornerback position last year and the Redskins may need to do something similar in 2006.

Note on John Hall:

In an article earlier this week, I came down in favor of keeping kicker John Hall. At the time, the savings for cutting him were said to be $780,000. At that number, the view here was, he was worth keeping.

However, our resident capologist here at WarpathInsiders.com has found some new information and it turns out that the cut savings for Hall is slightly over $1 million. That leap into seven figures of savings makes what was a close call in favor of keeping him into an easy one to cut him loose.

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