At the moment, the option of James Harrison returning to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers, only recently releasing the players, is mostly wishful thinking on his part. But if the veteran linebacker is willing to take a much reduced salary compared to what he was making in previous years, there’s always something to talk about.
The truth is, there isn’t much of a market for Harrison, an outside linebacker with 64 career sacks, six of them last season, as his ability to get past the offensive line has clearly been hampered the last couple of seasons by age and injuries. He had two more years left on his contract when the Steelers released him, as Harrison was due to make $6.75 million in 2013.
He was about to meet with the Baltimore Ravens, but the Super Bowl champions and division rivals for 13 years signed Elvis Dumervil before Harrison had the chance to stick his foot through the door, and he is left, at the moment, like many other veterans, looking for a respectable pay day, but without too many teams willing to give him one. He’s hoping the Steelers, who have been quiet in free agency so far, going through some sort of financial revision, clearing a lot of cap-space, will be willing to take him back for a reduced salary.
Harrison was still very productive last season despite the knee injury that kept him out of the first three games, but at 34 and not being the kind of second line beast he used to be during the Steelers’ Super Bowl appearances (two wins), paying nearly $7 million a season was simply too much to endure. Harrison can still come up with the big plays, including forced fumbles, but is too prone to get beaten by the protectors, which seemed impossible only two or three years ago.