The Jets today have released 11th-year linebacker David Harris.
Head coach Todd Bowles, at his news conference today following the Jets' OTA practice, said the move was the result of a breakdown in negotiations on a restructured contract between the Jets and Harris' representatives.
"It was an organizational decision," Bowles said. "We were talking about a salary reduction, we couldn't come to an agreement, and eventually it led to this." He said talks had been going on "the past couple of days."
"It wasn't an easy time," Bowles said. "David's been a Jet all his life. He was born and bled green. He's obviously a guy who is well-liked in the building. It's part of the business, it's never an easy thing to go through. There's never a good time that it could happen. There was a breakdown in talks and that's what led to this."
“For a decade, David Harris represented the Jets with character and professionalism," said Jets owner Woody Johnson. "He held himself to the highest of standards and always carried himself with a quiet dignity and humility. While these decisions are always difficult and the timing is not ideal, David will always be a Jet, and I appreciate his leadership and passion.”
Best Images of No. 52 During His Time in the Green & White
Harris, 33, was the most senior member of the Jets' defensive unit and the second-oldest player on the roster behind QB Josh McCown. He arrived as the Jets' second-round selection (47th overall) of the 2007 draft out of Michigan, had been the grand old man of the Green & White defense. In fact, "The Hitman" passed a grand in tackles a while ago — after the ninth team-leading 100-plus-tackles season of his career in 2016, he's No. 2 in franchise history with 1,260 tackles, trailing only Kyle Clifton's 1,471 tackles.
He never played in a Pro Bowl, although he was a second alternate after both the 2009 and 2011 seasons. He was named All-Pro second team by The Associated Press after the '09 campaign, and he was voted the Curtis Martin Team MVP by his teammates at the end of the 2010 campaign.
He also was twice named winner of the Dennis Byrd Award as the "most inspirational" Jet, in 2012 and 2015 and was the team's Ed Block Courage Award winner in 2009.
Harris missed only one game last year, due to a shoulder injury, that snapped his twin streaks of 121 consecutive starts and appearances. He still started and appeared in 137 of the Jets' last 138 games, dating to 2008, a streak that includes six playoff starts in 2009 and '10. In all he played in 154 regular-season games with 147 starts.
Besides his tackles, Harris for his regular-season career totaled 35 sacks, including five strip sacks, 10 forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and six interceptions. He scored one touchdown, on a 35-yard interception return in the Sunday night game at Baltimore on Oct. 2, 2011.
Harris' departure comes five days after the Jets executed a trade with Cleveland, receiving LB Demario Davis from the Browns in exchange for safety Calvin Pryor last Thursday. Davis was originally the Jets' third-round pick in 2012 and started 51 games in all and 48 consecutive games alongside Harris at inside linebacker before he left for Cleveland as an unrestricted free agent after the 2015 season.
"It was good to have Demario back in the fold," Bowles said. "I don't think it had a bearing on David" and his situation. "With David gone, he's going to have to play more and play a bigger role."