Cleveland — The job of an NFL general manager is a difficult one, constantly requiring the weighing the short-term against the long-term impact of every decision, with the ultimate goal of building sustainable success.
This year, when Detroit Lions players Darius Slay and Damon Harrison sat out the offseason program, including mandatory minicamp, in pursuit of contract extensions, general manager Bob Quinn had to walk that line of short-term and long-term value of having negotiations.
From the short-term perspective, Harrison and Slay are standout players who figure to play key roles on the defense for the next few seasons. On the other hand, they both had two years remaining on their contracts, giving the Lions little reason to negotiate now.
But Quinn didn't wait, at least not with Harrison, working out a one-year extension, and adding $12 million in guaranteed money to the dominant nose tackle's deal.
"Damon is a great player," Quinn said Thursday. "It was something we've talked about all offseason and we kind of felt like it was a situation where we wanted to do that to solidify our defensive front and have him here for a couple more years."
Whether it played a role or not remains unclear, but the Lions didn't negotiate Harrison's previous deal. They acquired him in a trade in the middle of last season, inheriting the back end of a contract he originally signed with the New York Giants.
"I thought, looking back at that trade, that was a great trade for us and he wasn't completely happy with the contract he signed in New York a couple of years ago," Quinn said. "We had some conversations and we found middle ground and it was good."
In reality, Harrison was probably in the Lions' plans the next two seasons. The extension only gives him a slight raise for that stretch, but with more assurances from the organization. The third year is an important addition for the Lions, a team-option to keep Harrison at market rate if he continues to perform at a high level.
In other words, it's a true win-win.
As for Slay, Quinn declined to comment on where conversations might be with locked up the two-time Pro Bowler beyond the 2020 season.
"I'm not talking about anybody under contract that we may or may not be having conversations with," Quinn said.
One thing Quinn made clear is he doesn't feel negotiating with Harrison, despite two years remaining on the player's contract, has any bearing on future contract talks with players, Slay or otherwise.
"I think every player is in a different circumstance and I would say every year we go through things similar to this," Quinn said. "This year happened to be that Snacks had two years left and we decided to do something. We take every case individually, based on the player and the situation."