Allen Park — After reportedly negotiating terms on a deal with free agent wide receiver D.J. Chark early Tuesday morning, the Detroit Lions managed to retain another one of their own free agents, agreeing to a new, two-year contract with edge rusher Charles Harris, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.
According to multiple reports, the pact is worth up to $14 million, marking a significant pay raise for Harris, who joined the team on a one-year, $1.75-million, prove-it deal last offseason.
And prove it Harris did during his first year with the Lions.
The former first-round pick experienced a breakout season in 2021, appearing in all 17 games and pacing the team with a career-high 7.5 sacks. According to Pro Football Focus, he also led Detroit’s defense with 52 quarterback pressures, more than twice as many as any of his teammates. Julian Okwara was next on the list with 21.
“The No. 1 thing is, since Day 1 of training camp since Charles Harris walked in these doors, he’s been a man on a mission,” position coach Kelvin Sheppard said during the season. “It was clear in everything to this entire staff that he was out to prove something, to not only us, but to the entire league. And from Day 1, he’s done everything asked of him.
“…He’s a very physical, quick-twitchy player,” Sheppard said. “So he gets on and off the blocks well and he does things that a lot of other people — you have to have a motor to do a lot of things that Charles Harris does on tape, and it’s nonstop from the first whistle to the last.”
Harris will rejoin an edge-rushing group consisting of both Julian and Romeo Okwara, as well as Austin Bryant. The Lions will be releasing Trey Flowers this week, but are expected to bring in additional reinforcements via the draft, potentially using the No. 2 pick to select Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson or Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux to round out the room.
The Lions can use all the pass rush help they can get heading into the 2022 campaign. The team finished 30th in the NFL with 30 sacks last season, as well as 29th in pressure rate.
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