Top Lions’ Defensive Lineman Pondering Retirement

Damon Harrison

Getty Damon Harrison walks off the field in 2019.

The Detroit Lions figure to see plenty of changes in 2020, and one of the biggest could involve one of their top defensive tackles.

Damon Harrison, who was acquired in the 2018 season for a fifth round draft pick, is pondering retirement. While his mind is not made up at this point, Harrison was apparently emotional about the looming decision in the locker room after Week 17’s finale against the Green Bay Packers.

Here’s a look at what Harrison had to say:

It’s a surprise to see Harrison pondering retirement, considering he played well for the Lions in 2018. 2019 was a challenge with health and otherwise for Harrison, but he is still an elite stuffer in the middle of the line at 31 years old. Seemingly, he would still have enough left physically to the naked eye to compete.

Perhaps mentally and emotionally, Harrison might decide he’s finished. In any event, the defensive tackle might simply need some time away to make his decision.

Damon Harrison Explains 2019 Season

Arguably, Harrison changed Detroit’s run defense himself last season, taking a group which was average and turning it into a group which was very stout up front as well as gritty.

This season, though, Harrison got off to a slow start with the Lions and never really recovered. He and his team have been run over in the early season up front and aren’t stopping the run with consistency at all. As a whole, the group has been very below average and have been pushed around in the trenches so far this season. It’s something plenty are disappointed about, including Harrison.

So what’s been the problem? Harrison seems to think teams are bodying him up as much as they ever have, which isn’t an excuse, but something the lineman must account for.

“I would just say teams are doing a good job of making sure I’m accounted for. That hasn’t stopped me in the past and I don’t see why it should stop me now,” Harrison told the media about his slow start to the 2019 season.

Did they play him any differently? Perhaps not exactly.

“I wouldn’t say differently. They’re just doing a good job of getting me off some things I am struggling with now,” he said a few months back, declining to mention what things those were specifically.

As Harrison battled health struggles down the stretch every single week, he couldn’t help the team’s defense get over the hump in the end.

Damon Harrison Could Owe Lions Money

If Harrison retires, he could end up owing the Lions some cash when all is said and done, perhaps upwards of $5 million dollars, as Jason from Over The Cap pointed out on Twitter.

The Lions, of course, have been known as sticklers through the years in terms of making players who choose to retire prior to their contracts expiring paying out their signing bonuses. Famously, it’s been done with franchise legends like Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson in the recent past, meaning it could be easy for the team to try and collect from Harrison.

It will be interesting to see if Harrison retires, and what ends up playing out as a result.

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