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DuJuan Harris will walk as Packers decline to offer him minimum contract

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In a bit of a surprise, the Packers have elected not to maintain exclusive negotiating rights with one of their young players.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers have elected not to retain exclusive-rights free agent DuJuan Harrisaccording to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Players who have expired contracts with three or less tenured seasons in the NFL become exclusive-rights free agents. For Harris specifically, he signed his contract the last month of the 2012 season, only making his 2013 and 2014 campaigns count towards free agency. The Packers could have maintained exclusive negotiating rights with Harris by offering him a league-minimum contract tender; instead, he will become an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday. Harris was one of two exclusive-rights free agents the Packers had, with the other player being defensive back Chris Banjo, who we expect will receive the tender.

Harris rarely saw any looks on the offensive side of the ball for the Packers in 2014, carrying the football only 16 times for 64 yards. The majority of his production came on special teams as the Packers' main kick returner, bringing back 22 kickoffs for an average of 20.7 yards. Head coach Mike McCarthy made a switch late in the season due to Harris' ineffectiveness and needs at other positions, and Green Bay ranked 31st in kickoff returns at season's end. The 26-year-old back was deactivated for the final three games and for both of the Packers' playoff games.

With Harris departing, that leaves the Packers with three running backs on the roster: Eddie Lacy, James Starks, and Rajion Neal.