Unless something unexpected happens, James Harrison will be coming out of retirement and signing to play once again for the Pittsburgh Steelers as too many injuries in their linebacker corps demanded some extreme measures to be taken.
Harrison, a five-time pro bowler who turned 36 last May, played last season on the Cincinnati Bengals. Despite that “defection and betrayal” he didn’t end things on bad terms with the Steelers, re-signing with the team in order to retire with them. He played for the Steelers from 2004 to 2012, winning two Super Bowls and reaching another one in 2010.
From 2007 to 2011 he was one of the leading pass rushing forces in the NFL, getting to the quarterback 54 times, including three season with more than 10 sacks. He was released after the 2012 season when the Steelers and he couldn’t come to an agreement regarding a huge paycut they were demanding from him. Harrison played one season for the Bengals, a division rival for most of his career, contributing 30 tackles, two sacks and one interception while playing 15 games.
The Steelers lost second-year linebacker Jarvis Jones and rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier in the 37-19 win over the Carolina Panthers. Jones is likely to be out for eight weeks with a dislocated wrist, placing him on the injured reserve/designated to return list. Shazier was less severel hurt, spraining his knee. He is expected to miss two to three weeks unless there are unforeseen complications.
Those aren’t the only injury problems the Steelers are having following Ike Taylor breaking his arm in the same game, which could cost him at least six or seven weeks of action if not more. The Steelers are 2-1 this season, getting something of a retro look again, deferring a bit from a pass-heavy offense to more running and looking slightly better on defense.
It’s hard to believe Harrison can contribute significantly in terms of playing time at his age, especially after not doing all that great in 2013. However, with the situation getting quite desperate, bringing someone back who knows the system very well and has a special bond with the team isn’t such a bad idea.