Despite being interested in returning to the Pittsburgh Steelers after being released, James Harrison is much closer to sign with a different AFC North team, the Cincinnati Bengals, who need to add a pass rushing linebacker to complete their defensive puzzle, visiting with the team and being very close to agreeing to a contract from them.
Harrison has spent the first 11 seasons of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, winning two Super Bowls and going to a third, recording 64 sacks and making two All-Pro teams while winning the defensive player of the year in 2008. Due to make $6.75 million in 2013, Harrison refused to restructure his contract, the nice way of saying taking a pay cut and was released by the Steelers. Despite sending signals of wanting to rejoin the only team he’s ever played for, the Steelers are simply not interested anymore in the 34 year old.
For the Bengals, who lost Manny Lawson to the Buffalo Bills this season, keeping their defensive quality intact is of the highest priority, spending most of their time this off-season keeping the key pieces together in order to make another playoff run in 2013, hoping that on their third consecutive postseason trip they’ll finally be able to win a game. Getting Harrison, who recorded six sacks in 13 games and is still a very dangerous pass-rusher despite his age and some injuries he’s picked up over the last couple of seasons, might mean they won’t have too much to worry about.
Harrison was quite close to signing with the Baltimore Ravens, but they met with Elvis Dumervil the same day and signed him. Other than that, the interest in Harrison has been quite scarce, meaning he’ll probably be taking a big pay cut compared to the money he was used to while playing for the Steelers.