Bengals, Dolphins appear most interested in Lions QB
While the teams in pursuit of quarterback Joey Harrington must all overcome hurdles before a trade is consummated, sources close to the discussions believe a deal for the former Detroit Lions starter could be completed sometime this week, and possibly within the next day or two.
Agent David Dunn declined to elaborate much on the trade negotiations, but debunked a weekend report that his client preferred the Miami Dolphins over the Cincinnati Bengals, the only two teams with which Harrington has visited so far.
"He liked both situations," Dunn told ESPN.com. "He liked the organizations and the coaches and, in a lot of ways, there are similarities, with both the [starting quarterbacks] coming off injuries. Nothing has been decided yet, but I don't think it will be a whole lot longer."
The third team that has demonstrated the most interest, Denver, has not scheduled a visit. But the Broncos continue to closely monitor the situation. Perhaps most surprising is that Kansas City, where the perception is that the Chiefs need to begin developing a young quarterback behind Trent Green, has displayed virtually no interest in Harrington to this point.
It is believed that Miami has offered Harrington a two-year contract. But the Dolphins may not be able to satisfy the compensatory demands of Lions president Matt Millen, who is said to be seeking a sixth-round choice in return for the four-year veteran. Miami is without fifth- and sixth-round choices in the 2006 draft and might have to be creative, and perhaps offer a pick in the 2007 lottery.
The Bengals have a sufficient stockpile of draft choices, but are believed to be offering Harrington a one-year contract, and at less than the former first-rounder hopes to earn in 2006.
Millen reiterated at last week's league owners meetings in Orlando that the Lions are in no rush to deal Harrington unless the trade offer is right for them. The only ostensible deadline that Detroit faces doesn't arrive until June 15, when Harrington is due a $4 million bonus if he is on the Lions' roster then. From a practical standpoint for all parties involved, however, it makes sense to deal Harrington before the draft on April 29-30. That would allow Harrington to participate in his new team's offseason program and permit the Lions to close a painful chapter in franchise history.
The third overall choice in the 2002 draft, Harrington, 27, 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. Detroit has signed a trio of veteran quarterbacks -- Jon Kitna, Josh McCown and Shaun King -- in the offseason. Kitna and McCown will compete for the starting job.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.