The Steelers aren’t placing want ads for defensive players, but a local resident would like to apply for a job as an outside linebacker.
He has some experience, after all. He’s a five-time Pro Bowl player, and a former NFL Defensive Player of the Year. And he would be affordable.
He’s James Harrison.
Harrison, cut recently after one season with the Bengals, is making it clear he would like to play for the Steelers again. He appeared recently at a function for Brett Keisel, even while still under contract to the Bengals, and he told the NFL Network’s NFL Total Access show where he would like to end his career.
Pittsburgh, of course.
“Everybody knows that,” Harrison said. “I’ve got two (Super Bowl) rings and I’ve got a lot of relationships, teammates, former teammates that are still good friends.”
Harrison will be 36 in less than two months, but he thinks he’s still got enough left to play effectively. He said he’s not close to retiring and — not surprisingly for a man known for his demanding training regimen –he wants to “go until the wheels fall off.”
Harrison was let go by the Steelers a year ago when the two sides couldn’t agree on a pay cut. Harrison, a trademark 3-4 linebacker, played out of position in Cincinnati’s 4-3 defense, but he also played effectively at times.
He was the sixth highest-ranked player on Cincinnati’s defense, which ranked No. 3 in the NFL, behind only Seattle and Carolina and was the AFC’s top-ranked unit.
Harrison played 383 snaps, or about 37 percent of all those played by the Bengals defense. He graded out at a plus-8.4 in Pro Football Focus’ player grades, including an above-average 10.7 as a run defender. He was minus-3.0 as a pass rusher.
Harrison’s final stats line: two sacks, three QB hits, 14 QB hurries, 25 tackles and only three missed tackles.
So would he be an asset to a Steelers defense that is being made over to get younger?
With LaMarr Woodley gone, Jason Worilds and Jarvis Jones seem certain to be the starters, with only the ineffective-to-date Chris Carter as an experienced backup.
Given his resume, and the likelihood he would likely accept a salary much lower than he would have agreed to play for a year ago, Harrison would seem to be an option the Steelers might want to consider.
Unlike most players brought in from another team, Harrison certainly wouldn’t need much time to learn Dick LeBeau’s defense.