Steelers Talk About Re-Signing Harrison

By Ed Bouchette
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 5 years ago

Good morning,

We know now that James Harrison wants to return to the Steelers, but do the Steelers want him and at what price?

There is mutual attraction here and it’s quite possible Harrison will return to the Steelers for one more year. Both sides are being awfully quiet about it, but there have been talks about bringing Harrison back and I think it will happen.

It makes too much sense for it not to. The Steelers are extremely thin and relatively unproven at outside linebacker. They wanted Harrison back last season at more than $3 million. Why not have him back one year later at the veteran minimum in which he would earn $955,000 in salary plus a $65,000 roster bonus and count only $635,000 against the salary cap in 2014. If they signed him to that right now, their cap space would shrink by just $215,000 (he would replace $420,000 for a player in his first year among the top 51 salaries, which are the only ones that count until the season starts).

While many, including us, have talked about Harrison being a fish out of water in Cincinnati’s 4-3 defense last season, Pro Football Focus ranked him the second-best performer among the Bengals’ linebackers in 2013 behind only Vontaze Burfict, who received a 10.6 rating from PFF to Harrison’s 8.4. They rated Jason Worilds at a 9.5 and Jarvis Jones at a minus-3.9. Harrison, though, played in only 383 defensive snaps, about one-third as many as Burfict.

Nevertheless, the Steelers presumably would not bring Harrison back to start. He would play in a part-time role behind Jarvis Jones, unless Jones falters and Harrison shows he can still play most downs.

The Steelers really have nothing to lose. Right now, they have only Chris Carter as any kind of experienced backup on the outside (Lawrence Timmons can play there, as he has in the past, if they really need him to). If they sign him and he shows in training camp he no longer has it, they would be out that $65,000 signing bonus. That’s known as chicken feed in the business.

Onto some stuff:

--- The NFL’s Ian Rapoport reports that broken-down wide receiver Sidney Rice will visit the Steelers next week. This after 2013 oft-injured wide receiver Lance Moore, cut by the Saints, is reportedly visiting them today. Let’s label these visits what they are, an attempt by them to show Jerricho Cotchery the team is ready to move on without him, so he better sign back with them soon before they give that money to someone else. They want Cotchery, not Moore or Rice.

--- This is Elliot Harrison’s lead in a story yesterday in which he picks the all-time Steelers team:

“No franchise has had more Super Bowl success than the club Art Rooney Sr. built with racetrack money 81 years ago . . . “

Will someone please tell the NFL that that myth long ago was debunked, continues to be debunked and yet people keep writing it. Art Rooney did not build the Steelers in 1933 with any racetrack winnings. His big winnings did not come until several years later, as detailed meticulously in the book, “Rooney, A Sporting Life” by Rob Ruck et al, among many other creditable sources.

--- And now, your questions in Ask Ed:

--- YOU: Any word from your contacts inside the team regarding the Steelers being a part of HBOs Hard Knocks in 2014?

ED: I’ve heard nothing. Frankly, I haven’t asked anyone either. I’d say they were highly likely to be the team, though. This is the one chance the NFL and HBO get to put the Steelers on that show and the Steelers can do nothing about it. Why not take it? The new rules allow the NFL/HBO to pick a team – even if that team does not want to be on the show -- that has not made the playoffs two straight years and does not have a new head coach. If the NFL/HBO does not pick them and the Steelers make the playoffs in 2014, they could opt out of Hard Knocks until at least 2017. With the Steelers widespread fan base, I’d say they and the Dallas Cowboys would have to be the top two on their list.

--- YOU: Should we draw any inferences from the apparent lack of information concerning the possible loss of a draft pick for the Tomlin two step fiasco?

ED: No. Again, I have no idea what Roger Goodell is going to do here. He threatened to take away a draft pick; many others reported that he will. Art Rooney II told me if they do, he’ll appeal.