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Harrison, who is second in NFL career receptions, turns 37 in August and is coming off the least productive non-injury-plagued season of his 13-year career. Cutting him could save the Colts about $6 million on next season's salary cap.
Agent Tom Condon said the receiver expects the Colts to make the announcement Tuesday or Wednesday.
"There was no hardball with this, just heartache," Colts president and G.M. Bill Polian told ESPN insider Chris Mortensen when asked about the move.
Harrison caught 112 of his 128 career touchdowns from Peyton Manning, making them the top receiver-quarterback tandem in league history. In fact, all of Harrison's 1,102 career receptions -- second in NFL history (trailing only Jerry Rice), 14,580 yards (fourth) and TDs have come with the Colts (with the vast majority from Manning's hand).
But Harrison has increasingly become the team's second receiver behind Reggie Wayne.
Knee issues limited him to five regular-season games and 20 receptions in 2007. Last season, his 60 catches ranked third on the team, his 636 yards fourth. He averaged 10.6 yards per catch, the worst of his career.
As Indianapolis Star beat writer Mike Chappell reminded readers, part of the problem last season was the normal Manning-Harrison synergy was missing. Part of that was due to each player missing extensive preseason practice time.
Whatever it's attributed to, decline is inevitable. Consider that there have been 595 1,000-yard receiving seasons in NFL history, and only two -- by Rice in 2001 and '02 at age 39 and 40 -- by a player 37 or older.
Meanwhile, the Colts have been bracing for this day, drafting Anthony Gonzalez in the first round and grooming young receivers Roy Hall and Pierre Garcon. While all three are likely to be asked to play greater roles in the post-Harrison Colts' offense, it remains to be seen how ready the latter two are.
Hall missed most of the 2008 season as he recovered from a hamstring injury and knee surgery. And according to the Sports Xchange, Garcon needs more work in learning the offense and the position.
Meanwhile, the speculation about where Harrison will land has begun. According to NFL Network insider Adam Schefter, Harrison is determined to continue playing.
A logical landing spot would be the receiver-needy Eagles, where Harrison would be reunited with his former Syracuse teammate, Donovan McNabb, while getting to play in the city where he lives.
Given that report, is it any coincidence that ESPN.com's Michael Smith advised readers earlier this afternoon that McNabb and Eagles brass held a lengthy meeting last week, where last season's Week 12 benching and the subject of a contract extension were discussed -- and that McNabb was considering holding off on further extension talks until he sees how that Eagles improve themselves in the offseason via free agency and/or trades?
It's an interesting theory -- assuming Harrison can still play at Harrison-like levels.
Talking to reporters earlier this week, Colts receivers coach Clyde Christensen acknowledged Harrison isn't the player he was four, five, six years ago. But he quickly added Harrison is "still a freak that doesn't come down the road very often.'
Head coach Jim Caldwell's review of the 2008 season included evaluating Harrison. His appraisal: Harrison's still got it.
"I saw a guy who's as quick as he's been,' Caldwell said. "(He's) still a guy with the outstanding hands that he's always shown, still with the same ability to create some space for himself and get open.
"What we did not see (was) any diminishing in terms of his skills and ability.'
Caldwell and Christensen, of course, had reason to be diplomatic at the time.
Former Redskins and Texans G.M. and current CBS analyst Charley Casserly (working the combine broadcast for the NFL Network this week), however, has no reason at all to be kind. And Casserly isn't sure Harrison will draw much interest on the open market.
Or any interest at all.
"I'm not sure he'll get a single offer in free agency," Casserly told NFL Network viewers this week.
Others believe Harrison's long and distinguished career alone will be sufficient to earn the veteran wideout a shot somewhere.
"There definitely will be a market for Marvin Harrison," said Marcellus Wiley, who spent 10 years in the NFL as a defensive end before joining ESPN as an analyst. "You afford yourself another opportunity when you've had such a great career."
Rice played four seasons after leaving San Francisco following the 2000 season -- catching 268 passes (and scoring 21 touchdowns) while playing three full seasons in Oakland and splitting a fourth year (2004) between the Raiders and Seahawks.
Rice failed to make the Broncos' final cuts in the summer of 2005.
As Profootballtalk.com's Mike Florio pointed out, if this is just a case of Harrison not wanting to cut dramatically his $9 million base salary for 2009, there’s a chance that he’ll find no suitable takers on the open market.
In that case, Florio advised readers not to rule out a return by Harrison to Indianapolis.