The Detroit Lions need to extend Charles Harris immediately

(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions have found something in edge-rusher Charles Harris, and general manager Brad Holmes needs to draw up the paperwork to extend him immediately.

Harris is a former first-round pick but proving to be a late bloomer.  I mention the first-round selection because coming out of college, Harris clearly had all the tools to excel at the NFL level after being selected by the Miami Dolphins with the 22nd overall pick in 2017, but just hadn’t been able to put it all together until 2021, his first year in Detroit.

Before 2021, Harris started nine games and dressed for 54 over four seasons between Miami and Atlanta.  In those 54 games, Harris totaled 6.5 sacks, 79 tackles, 13 of which were for a loss, plus he defended four passes and recovered a fumble.

Now, fast forward to this season with the Detroit Lions.

Harris has totaled eight sacks on the season (as of halftime Sunday vs. Arizona) to go with 48 tackles, eight of which are for a loss, plus he’s forced two fumbles and has tallied 15 quarterback hits.  This production has come over 11 starts and 14 games.

The Detroit Lions need to extend Charles Harris.

Needless to say, Harris has made himself some money this season in Detroit, but Holmes needs to lock up the emerging star to a new deal before he hits the open market.  Harris had been forced into duty due to Detroit’s string of injuries to Romeo Okwara and Trey Flowers but has made the most of his opportunity.

According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Harris has maintained an overall grade of 68.2, which includes a stellar pass-rushing mark of 78.4 as a pass-rusher over 634 defensive snaps.  These grades do not include Sunday’s excellent showing against the Cardinals.

Harris is on a one-year deal that pays $1.75 million, he’s in line to make somewhere around $8-10 million per season.  Romeo Okwara signed a three-year deal that averages just over $12 million after his 10 sack season a year ago.  I don’t expect Harris to land that, but certainly will be in the neighborhood of $8 million.

There are plenty of questions surrounding Flowers’ future with the Detroit Lions.  I expect the veteran high-priced defensive end has played his last game with the Lions; only time will tell.  Flowers’ dead cap number significantly decreases at season’s end from $32.8 million to $12.8 million heading into 2022.  I’d expect Detroit will be inclined to part ways with Flowers and eat the $12.8 million, saving them just over $10 million against the cap.

The Detroit Lions will be in a position to draft an elite pass-rusher at the top of the 2022 NFL Draft; whether it is Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson or Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux remains to be seen.

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As you know, an NFL franchise can not deploy enough pass-rushing options.  Harris, along with Romeo Okwara and whichever rookie they prefer, gives the organization three stellar options.  The Lions also have Austin Bryant and Julian Okwara; they can rotate through as they wish.