|Panthers ink S Harris to 4-year extension|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 14 February 2008 10:21|
Wharton got a six-year deal, while Harris was signed to a four-year contract extension that will keep him with the team through the 2012 season.
Wharton was scheduled to become a free agent at the end of the month. Harris had one year left on his deal.
Harris led the NFL and set a team record with eight forced fumbles last season.
``We decided to forgo free agency and stay there because he was real happy,'' said Albert Elias, Harris' agent. ``They made a fair offer.''
Elias said Harris' deal is for $13.3 million over the next five years, a total that includes some incentives. Harris will receive a $2 million signing bonus this year and a $1 million roster bonus in 2009.
veteran Mike Minter was contemplating retirement. Carolina acquired Harris from Chicago for a fifth-round pick, and Minter retired a few days later.
The 25-year-old Harris, who had fallen down the depth chart with the Bears, went on to have his best his best season as a pro.
Harris ranked second on the team with a career-high 102 tackles. He had three forced fumbles in two weeks late in the season, including stripping the ball from Seattle running back Shaun Alexander in Carolina's upset win over the Seahawks.
Harris sat out the final game with a neck injury, but has since recovered.
Elias said he first discussed a contract extension with general manager Marty Hurney after Carolina's loss to Atlanta on Nov. 11. Discussions heated up over the past few weeks.
``This gives him some security and lets him play for a team that he really loves,'' Elias said.
Harris, who played at Louisiana-Monroe and was not invited to the NFL combine, was the Bears' sixth-round draft pick in 2005. He intercepted Peyton Manning in Chicago's loss to Indianapolis in the 2007 Super Bowl.