Indianapolis Colts  

 

Colts honor Harrison's request, release him after 13 seasons

  • By NFL.com Wire Reports
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Marvin Harrison refused to take a pay cut. The Indianapolis Colts couldn't afford to keep him without one.

So, the two sides reached an agreement on one thing: Harrison will be a free agent.

Harrison's agent, Tom Condon, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Indianapolis has agreed to release the franchise's all-time leading receiver, and Colts owner Jim Irsay confirmed the move at a news conference later in the day.

Condon said Harrison met with team owner Jim Irsay on Tuesday afternoon in a last effort to stay with the team. But after the meeting, Condon said he was unaware of any deal that would keep Harrison in a Colts uniform.

Marvin Harrison , WR
Indianapolis Colts

Career Statistics
Receptions: 1,102
Yards: 14,580
Touchdowns: 128

Colts president Bill Polian told reporters Sunday at the NFL Scouting Combine that the team was trying to rework Harrison's deal to lower the wide receiver's salary-cap number from approximately $13.4 million, the highest number of any wideout in the NFL.

But after the two sides couldn't agree on a restructured contract, Harrison asked the Colts to release him, a league source told NFL Network's Adam Schefter on Sunday.

"Basically, we were not able to come to any kind of agreement, it was not contentious and the Colts have agreed to release him," Condon said in a phone interview Monday.

It's not a surprising move because the Colts would save about $6 million, based on Harrison's base salary. They still would be charged for prorated bonuses from the $66 million deal he signed in December 2004.

The Colts found it too expensive for a 36-year-old receiver coming off one of the least productive seasons of his career.

Harrison ranks second in NFL history with 1,102 receptions and was one of the franchise's most identifiable player in the last decade.

His penchant for toe-tapping catches along the sideline and incredible grabs in the middle of the field helped the Colts build one of the league's most successful franchises in this decade.

But longtime teammates understood why Harrison wanted to become a free agent.

"I think whatever Marvin chooses to do for himself, he has to do," center Jeff Saturday said Sunday night. "I love Marvin as a friend and as a teammate."

Indianapolis took Harrison in the first round of the 1996 draft, and when Manning arrived two years later, the tandem began a record-setting journey. They combined for more completions, yardage and touchdowns than any duo in league history.

Harrison made eight Pro Bowls, won a Super Bowl ring, and his 14,580 yards rank fourth on the NFL's career list. He is No. 5 all-time with 128 TD catches and holds all major single-season and career receiving marks for the Colts.

Over the past two seasons, though, Harrison hasn't been up to his usual standards.

He missed all but five games in 2007 because of injuries, underwent offseason knee surgery and then caught 60 passes in 2008 -- far less than half of his NFL record 143 in 2002.

Philadelphia police also believe one of Harrison's guns was used in an April shooting in his hometown. No charges were filed against Harrison, and the man who made the accusation was convicted on a misdemeanor charge of lying to police.

On the field, Manning has looked more frequently for three-time Pro Bowl selection Reggie Wayne and Anthony Gonzalez, a first-round pick in 2007.

Yet coaches and Polian insisted Harrison's skills had not deteriorated.

"What I saw is a guy who is as quick as he's been, with the same hands, and he has the ability he's always had," new Colts coach Jim Caldwell said Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine.

And Polian insisted he still wanted Harrison back in his familiar No. 88 jersey.

"Hopefully, we'll find a way to work through that (the contract)," Polian said Sunday. "I don't know if we will, but we hope to."

They couldn't.

Now Harrison will look for work elsewhere. Some have speculated that he would like to play with his hometown Eagles and former college teammate Donovan McNabb.

The Colts will have a vastly different look next season.

Former coach Tony Dungy retired in January and was replaced by Caldwell. Caldwell has hired new defensive and special teams coordinators and three of the four longest-tenured players on the roster are heading to free agency, which opens Friday.

Saturday said Sunday night he intended to test the market despite getting an offer from the Colts late last week. Punter Hunter Smith's agent, Thomas Mills, said last week Indy would not try to re-sign Smith before free agency began.

And now Harrison will join them on the open market.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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