Harris penned a heartfelt letter that was posted on the Jets’ official website Friday.
He started by thanking Woody Johnson and others in the organization for giving him “the opportunity to live out my childhood dream of playing at this level.”
He thanked the three head coaches he played for — Eric Mangini, Rex Ryan and Todd Bowles — “for your trust and confidence in choosing me to lead your defenses and teaching me how to truly play this game.”
“To all of my former teammates, I enjoyed every single moment playing beside you throughout the years, during all of the ups and downs,” Harris also wrote. “Only we know the sacrifices that were made, day in and day out, to be able to put out the very best product possible for our fans. I want every single one of you to know that my loyalty has always been to you guys in that locker room and to the coaches. And last but not least, to all of those diehard Jets fans – thank you for your support and motivation.”
Harris also said he was grateful for all the hard work done by the Jets’ training staff and strength and conditioning coaches over the years.
The Jets released Harris on Tuesday. The move saves the team $6.5 million against the salary cap.
The 33-year-old inside linebacker played 11 seasons with the Jets, making him the longest-tenured member of the team. He was drafted in the second round in 2007 and eventually became the heart of a defense that reached the AFC championship game in back-to-back seasons under former coach Rex Ryan in 2009 and 2010.
Harris had at least 113 tackles in every season but his second, when he had 87 after missing six games with an injury. He ranks second all-time in franchise history with 1,260 tackles, trailing only Kyle Clifton.
Harris finished his letter with a P.S. directed at Clifton, who played for the Jets from 1984 to 1996: “Your Jets all-time tackle record is now safe.”
While Harris ends his Jets career on a classy note, his agents were vocal in their criticism about the timing of his release Tuesday.
“The Jets could have done this prior to free agency instead of waiting three months,” Brian Mackler and Jim Ivler said in a statement, “especially for a player who has exhibited nothing but loyalty and class for 10 years.”