James Harrison Will Remain in the AFC North

James Harrison Will Remain in the AFC NorthJames Harrison Will Remain in the AFC North

When the Pittsburgh Steelers released five-time Pro-bowl outside linebacker, James Harrison, they probably hoped they would not have to face him on the other side of the field very often.  We found out that they will, at least for two games every year.  He was signed by the Cincinnati Bengals on Tuesday.

“Great to get that done prior to the draft,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “Gives us a sense of where we are, another part defensively. We all will be excited to have James join us.

Harrison and the Steelers could not agree on the restructuring of his contract, and help Pittsburgh stay under the salary cap.  Several teams showed interest in the once Defensive Player of the Year, although he was injured for part of the 2012 season.

He had a solid finish, and when he met with the Bengals on Friday, they were impressed.

“He came in here and had a great visit and kind of bared his soul on things to us,” Lewis said. “I think it showed really the kind of person he was for us. That was great. (He) worked on the field for us, which not a lot of guys at this point in his career would be willing to do that.”

Cincinnati was sixth in defense overall last season.  Most of the core of that unit is returning, but they had some concerns at the linebacker position.  They hope the 34-year-old Harrison will help fill that area.

“With James, that was a big addition to us,” Lewis said. “It kind of revved us from where we were a year ago, a step up from where we were a year ago in an area where I hoped to try to improve in some way or another. So we were able to do that.”

Harrison helped the Steelers win the Super Bowl in 2006 and was the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2008. He helped Pittsburgh win another Super Bowl that season by returning Kurt Warner’s pass 100 yards for a touchdown at the end of the first half of a 27-23 victory.

James Turnage

Columnist-The Guardian Express

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