After over a decade with the Pittsburgh Steelers, it’s going to be quite weird seeing James Harrison playing for a different team. It’s going to be even weirder if he chooses to go and play for the New England Patriots.
Despite the usual hate coming from AFC North juggernauts Baltimore and Pittsburgh when it comes to the Patriots, who have usually been the team (along with the Colts) standing in the way of AFC domination, you’ll hear quite a lot of people saying they want to play for New England. Harrison, recently released from the Steelers, is no different, saying he’d love to play for the Patriots and next to Tom Brady, also thinking there wouldn’t be anyone who’ll be turning down that opportunity.
But how badly to the Patriots want him? Need him? Harrison was one of the best pass rushers in the NFL between 2007-2010, but injuries have helped fall off his usual sack-production, recording only 9 sacks in his last 27 games for the team. That doesn’t change the fact that he’ll be a very coveted free agent, and will probably demand quite a big contract in order to sign him.
The Patriots have a need for a pass-rusher, everyone can agree on that. While they did very well against the run for most of last season, they were unable to limit opposing quarterbacks due to their secondary problems, but also being a team that struggles getting after the quarterback. But is that a premier need?
Not everyone agrees on that, thinking the retaining certain players and improving the secondary should come first, before anything else, including adding a player of Harrison’s caliber to a team that clearly needs someone of his pedigree in the field of chasing and sacking quarterbacks. If the Patriots work quickly and re-sign the guys they want to, maybe we’ll see an early move for the 34 year old linebacker.