Safety Chris Harris’ second stint with the Chicago Bears has officially ended.
He was selected by the organization in the sixth round of the 2005 draft. He started as a rookie, beating out Mike Green at free safety. The following year, he intercepted a Peyton Manning pass in Super Bowl XLI.
Yet in the 2007 preseason, Harris was traded to the Carolina Panthers for a fifth round draft pick. The Bears cycled through a number of inefficient and/or injured safeties the following three years, with middling results. Deciding they needed a veteran presence on the back end of the secondary, Chicago traded LB Jamar Williams for Harris before last season.
Harris led the team in interceptions in 2010 and earned his first All-Pro selection. It appeared he would be a fixture at safety for years to come. Yet he has struggled mightily in 2011. He’s dealt with a hamstring injury that kept him out three games. His three starts though have been rough. He’s looked slow and has taken a number of bad angles, allowing multiple big plays.
He asked for a trade after being benched and deactivated in Week 6 but remained on the roster after the traded deadline had passed. Harris then started last week with Major Wright nursing a hip injury. Four days later, the team dumped him.
Harris spoke today with Josh Liss on WBBM Newsradio about his discussion with Lovie Smith this morning.
“He told me they were going to go with the other safeties; the younger safeties; they were moving in that direction, so he told me I was being released,” Harris said. “It really didn’t come as a shock to me. I prepared myself for every possible situation.”
“Playing in this game, I’ve had the highs and lows. The highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows when it comes to this profession. I thanked him for the opportunity and went from there.”
He said that being cut from an NFL organization for the first time in his career is as bad as one can expect.
“I’m going to say this is as low as it gets. It’s one of the lowest points in my career,” he said. “But I look at everything – I’m smiling at the opportunities. I hope to get a chance to go to another team, hopefully. Hopefully that will be the case and I’m smiling and embracing the new opportunity that I have ahead of me right now.”
Harris said he wasn’t sure why he was released from the team.
“I don’t know. That’s a question you have to ask [Smith],” he said. “I don’t ask any questions. It was what it was. It is what it is. I just roll with it. There’s nothing I can do about it.”
Chicago will go forward starting two inexperienced safeties in Chris Conte and Major Wright. Harris believes the defense can still be successful without him on the roster.
“I think they’ll be just fine. They’ve have two young guys that can play, Chris Conte and Major Wright, [they are] still learning but I think they’ll be just fine at the position.
“I loved my time here in Chicago. I thank all the fans for all the support they’ve shown me over the years. I’m definitely going to miss this city. I have a lot of love for this city and it always will have a place in my heart.”
Follow me on Twitter: @BearReport
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.