James Harrison Released By Steelers

James HarrisonJames Harrison Released By Steelers

James Harrison, 5 time pro-bowler who played right outside linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was released today.

If you aren’t a Steeler fan, you may be surprised.  I expected it.  It has nothing to do with ability, it’s all about the money.  In 2009 he signed a $51-million extension and was scheduled to make $6.57 million in 2013.  Pittsburgh general manager Kevin Colbert and Harrison’s agent Bill Parise tried to compromise on a deal, but it couldn’t be done.  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons have already signed restructured contracts.

With his bone crushing style, he was Roger Goodell’s “poster boy” for illegal contact.  He was once the “defensive player of the year” and will never be forgotten for a 100 yard interception return in Super Bowl XLIII.

His boasts a 131-game career with the Steelers.  Harrison had 64 sacks, 29 forced fumbles and five interceptions and was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2008. In eight playoff games, Harrison had 6.5 sacks and an interception.

”It’s been a great run but all good things must come to a end,” Harrison posted on his Twitter account Saturday afternoon. ”Thank you Steelers Nation I will miss you all!”

Coach Tomlin:  “James has played a major role in the success of this organization during his time in Pittsburgh,” head coach Mike Tomlin said in a statement released by the team. “I appreciate everything he has done in my six years as head coach and wish him nothing but the best in the future.”

Jason Worilds is expected to fill Harrison’s spot.  He has played well spelling Harrison and LaMarr Woodley at left outside linebacker.  Timmons and Woodley are in place for the long term.  The Steelers will miss him, but his absence will allow some very talented linebackers who have seen limited playing time a chance to compete for a starting linebacker position.

Last season, talented linebackers such as Marshall McFadden, a second year player, Sean Spence, rookie, and Adrian Robinson, also a rookie, saw little playing time with the exception of special teams.  Now they will have their opportunity to impress Dick LeBeau.

Another player of interest is speedy wide receiver Mike Wallace.  He is a free agent and the Patriots have shown an interest in him.

The Steelers have a wealth of young, speedy wide receivers.  That, and the fact that he showed a tendency to drop balls last season, may make him expendable if the money figure is too high.

The Steelers look to improve an 8 and 8 season in 2012.  Injuries, especially to Roethlisberger, produced an unusual non-winning season.

The AFC North will undoubtedly be another battle between the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh.  Flacco will have two chances to prove to the Steelers and to the world that his recently signed and expensive contract is justified..

James Turnage

Columnist-The Guardian Express