While the Dallas Cowboys loss of running back DeMarco Murray to the Philadelphia Eagles hogged the headlines this year, it was the departure of wide recevier and special teams ace Dwayne Harris to the New York Giants that head coach Jason Garrett was the most concerned about.
"“[Harris] is a great returner and cover guy,” Garrett told the Dallas Morning News in April. “He led our team in tackles and had a role on offense. He was willing to do anything, all of the dirty work. He served a very valuable role for us. We might not be able to find one guy to do all those different things.’’"
As a wide receiver, Harris was never going to usurp the Dallas Cowboys tandem of Dez Bryant or Terrance Williams. And the growth of slot recevier Cole Beasley pushed him further down the pecking order again.
In three seasons with the Cowboys, Harris played in 52 games, but starting just three times. With just 33 receptions and 418 yards in his career in Dallas, you could question why he was so important. But it was special teams where Harris stood out.
|Special Teams Tackles||8th||11th||14th|
|Kick Returns||35 for 859 yards|
|28 for 857 yards|
|11 for 210 yards|
|Punt Returns||32 for 292 yards|
|20 for 256|
|22 for 354 yards|
If the statistics aren’t enough, then the reaction of Harris’ departure by Cowboys columnist Rick Gosselin ought to be.
"“He was the team’s best special teams player and also a dual kick and punt returner. He gave the Cowboys an edge in field position. His departure really hurts.” Rick Gosselin, Dallas Morning News"
The Giants were willing to pay handsomely for Harris which is a reflection of what he can bring to a team. Harris signed a five year deal worth $17 million guaranteeing himself over $7 million. But Harris shirked at the idea that the Giants overpaid.
"“A lot of people questioned why they paid me so much,’’ Harris told the New York Post bluntly. “A lot of people don’t think I did enough to deserve it. My numbers speak for themselves and what I do on the field speaks for itself.’’"
While Harris claims his decision to join the Cowboys NFC East rivals was due to the promise of a bigger role at receiver, it’s hard to believe. There’s not many more threatening trio of receivers in the league than that of Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz and Reuben Randle.
However all three have an air of fragility about them, and maybe that’s where Harris is looking to cash in.
Sunday night sees the Cowboys open their 2015 NFL campaign. Dwayne Harris returns to AT&T Stadium with the Giants to face his former team. He’s not held back in comparing the two sides and his clear bias towards his new team will undoubtedly be the to pleasure of Giants fans.
"“I love the way we do things around here.” Harris told the New York Post. “It’s definitely an organization that is player-friendly…the way we practiced (at Dallas), every day in full pads, and a lot of guys were fatigued and I think a lot of times guys didn’t perform to their highest level because mentally and physically their body was just worn out from all the banging we did at practice. Here it’s more professional as far as athlete-friendly ”"
The Cowboys practice hard and fast. They also won more games than the Giants last season and were within touching distance of the NFC Championship game. I know which one I prefer; how about you?