- Jun 6, 2005
- Reaction score
- Toronto, Canada
Cornerback Al Harris had just kept Anquan Boldin in check for the better part of 60 minutes Sunday but his post-game comments were tinged more with melancholy than joy.
"I know my days are numbered here," Harris said as he packed gear into his bag before leaving for the night. "I think this is my free-agent season."
Harris, who has been quiet since summer about his unhappiness over a contract that doesn't expire until after the 2009 season, was asked if he was playing for his future.
"Little of both," he replied after the 31-14 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. "I'm playing to help the team win but. . . ."
Harris knows that his financial window will close long before the six-year, $18.635 million deal that he signed in September 2004 expires. Earlier in the year, Harris and his agent reportedly asked the Packers for two roster bonuses worth a combined $5 million and some Pro Bowl incentives, but they didn't get very far.
The Packers have $7.52 million of space beneath the salary cap and are looking to extend the contract of one or more deserving veteran players before the end of the year. It remains to be seen if they'll give more money to a cornerback that will be 32 in December.
If they don't, it seems a distinct possibility that Harris might follow the lead of cornerback Mike McKenzie and wide receiver Javon Walker and attempt to force a trade.
Harris' cap salary will increase from $3.375 million this season to $3.575 million in '07. He's due a $500,000 roster bonus and $2.2 million base salary next year.
On Sunday, Harris was matched up against Boldin on every snap and played him nothing but tough.
"You saw Boldin on Monday night against Chicago running through DBs," defensive coordinator Bob Sanders said. "Today he matched up well against him. He's a true professional. You don't have to say anything to him."
Of the 11 passes thrown to Boldin, four were completed for 47 yards. He also drew a holding penalty on Harris on a third and 25.
"Not to take anything away from him," Harris said. "He gets the utmost respect from me. I think he's underrated."
Harris took Boldin all over the field whereas Charles Woodson covered Bryant Johnson and nickel back Patrick Dendy had Troy Walters.
Harris was asked if it might have been one of the finest games of his career.
"Hell no," he said. "How many catches did Torry Holt have? Three. How many did he have on me? One. (Donte') Stallworth. How many catches did he have? One. The guy last week, how many did he have?"
Harris was referring to Miami's Chris Chambers, who also was shadowed by Harris and finished with two catches for 29 yards.
"That's about six catches in four weeks maybe adding up to 50 yards," said Harris. "This is my scheme. There's no key or whatever. This is what I do. The fact they put me on him says a lot."
One reason Boldin hasn't seen much match-up coverage in the past was the presence of Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. With Fitzgerald sidelined, the Packers felt confident leaving their best man-to-man player on Boldin.
Although Harris, who weighs 185 pounds, was giving up 38 pounds to Boldin, he played aggressively. It was in contrast to last week in Miami, where Harris missed four tackles and didn't appear all that interested in being physical.
"You're talking about tackles," Harris said. "We're talking about guys making catches. I'm not giving away strength. I can pump the bar 30 times at 225 (pounds). You haven't seen my body, huh?"
Harris broke up two slants for Boldin using perfect position and timing. All day, he mirrored Boldin so effectively that Matt Leinart decided not even to force balls to his primary target.
Late in the first quarter, when Boldin beat Harris deep but Leinart overthrew him 30 yards downfield, Harris said the only reason for the separation was a push-off by Boldin.
The only negative in Harris' inspired effort was the first-quarter short pass from Leinart that he should have intercepted but dropped.
"Oh my goodness," said Harris. "I just didn't adjust. You've got to make those plays, especially when you're on the guy you know they're going to throw the ball to."
It was the second easy interception botched by Harris in the span of three games. He has one interception.
"What separates Harris from the rest is that he is physical," Walters said. "He can get his hands on you and press you at the line."