The defensive tackle position is one of the Cowboys’ top positions of need in the 2020 off-season and now they have a prime opportunity to fill that void.
On Thursday, the Detroit Lions announced that they have released veteran DT Damon Harrison after just two seasons with the team, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.
Lions are releasing DT Damon “Snacks” Harrison, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 21, 2020
Harrison, for many years now, has been widely regarded as one of if not the best run-stuffer in the entire NFL.
From 2015-2017, he ranked number one in all three years for run stops and was tied for second in 2018. He also was just ranked by PFF as the best run defender in the NFL since 2012, giving him a grade of 95.1.
Damon Harrison: elite run stuffer pic.twitter.com/5JaTc0gZCu
— PFF (@PFF) February 21, 2020
However, 2019 was not a very good year for the eight-year vet.
He posted the lowest tackle amount and second-lowest tackles for loss amount in his entire career and was ranked as the 67th best run defender. Easily the worst rank he has had in a very long time.
This could be attributed to a few reasons.
Over the course of the season, Harrison was reportedly suffering from multiple injuries ranging from knee, calf, and groin. Surprisingly these injuries only sidelined him for just one game, which shows just how tough and resilient he is. Playing with these injuries against teams that obviously have you as the top guy to focus on and block is not ideal.
Combine that with being on a very under-performing 3-12-1 team would be difficult for any player to succeed in, especially at Damon Harrison’s age.
Harrison was even contemplating retirement at the end of the season, but after his release, he wants to keep playing, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.
After weighing retirement at the end of last season, DT Damon “Snacks” Harrison wants to keep playing, source said. Released by the #Lions, Snacks now hits the free-agent market.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) February 21, 2020
It is no secret that the Dallas Cowboys had their own fair share of bad run defense performances this past season, most notably against the Green Bay Packers. It felt like although they didn’t allow a bunch of long runs, they could not really stop the ground and pound “ugly yardage” runs they desperately needed to.
Even with what was a bad season for Damon Harrison, he still finished with more tackles than anyone on the Cowboys’ defensive line. However, Demarcus Lawrence, Robert Quinn, and Maliek Collins finished with more TFL’s.
Combining them all by bringing in Harrison as a force in the middle that the Cowboys have not had in a very long time would benefit them all because they each demand their own attention. If they rarely have to worry about being double-teamed and can rely on each other to beat the man in front of them it will only lead to headaches for opposing offenses.
There is no doubt that in this stage of his career, he will want to play with a team that puts him in the best situation to succeed and potentially make a push for a championship and I believe the Cowboys can do that for him.
I am not going to ignore multiple great seasons because of one lackluster season. Even at his age, Damon Harrison is just what Dallas needs in the middle of that line and all the talent that is there will only put him in a great position to be a dominant force again that he never saw in Detroit.
A low, risk high reward player that should not cost a ton and potentially would give a much-needed boost to this team’s run defense really should be a no-brainer for this front office.
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