Harrington to visit Dolphins, Bengals this week
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- League and team sources, here for the annual NFL owners meetings, confirmed Tuesday that Detroit Lions quarterback Joey Harrington will visit with the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals over the next few days.
Harrington will arrive in Miami on Tuesday evening for a Wednesday visit with Dolphins officials. He will then go to Cincinnati on Wednesday night for a Thursday meeting with the Bengals. Although several other teams are interested in Harrington, including Kansas City, no other visits are currently planned.
Agent David Dunn, who has been here conferring with teams on a number of clients, declined to comment on Harrington's plans.
The Dolphins are seeking a veteran backup to newly acquired starter Daunte Culpepper, and an insurance policy in the event the former Minnesota Vikings star, who is coming off surgery to repair three torn ligaments in his right knee, isn't recovered for the beginning of the season. Cincinnati wants to bolster the No. 2 spot behind Carson Palmer, who suffered two torn ligaments in his left knee during a wild-card round playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Both teams have entertained a number of backup candidates but signed none.
Cincinnati lost backup Jon Kitna in free agency, ironically, to Detroit, where he will vie for Harrington's old starting job. The Dolphins released 2005 starter Gus Frerotte and backup Sage Rosenfels signed with the Houston Texans, leaving coach Nick Saban without a viable No. 2 quarterback.
Lions team president Matt Millen reiterated here that the Lions are entertaining suitors for Harrington, and that they will listen to offers.
"There's nothing you can do about it," said Millen, whose team invested about $20 million in Harrington over the last four seasons, and hope to recoup even something modest in return. "He's not the first guy who didn't work out, and he won't be the last. You just try to make the best of it."
The third overall choice in the 2002 draft, Harrington started 55 games for the Lions and posted a record of 18-37. The former Oregon star completed 986 of 1,802 passes for 10,242 yards, with 60 touchdown passes and 62 interceptions, for an efficiency rating of 68.1. Harrington started 11 games in 2005, was benched at one point in favor of Jeff Garcia, then regained his job.
He reportedly asked Lions officials, including Millen and first-year head coach Rod Marinelli, to either trade or release him.
Harrington, 27, is due a $4 million roster bonus on June 15, and the Lions will wait right up to that deadline before releasing him. So any team that desires to have Harrington in its offseason program probably will have to trade for him. He also has a 2006 base salary of $4.5 million. Any team that deals for Harrington will ask him to rework his contract.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.