The Pittsburgh Steelers have released linebacker James Harrison. Harrison was the 2008 NFL player of the year and has been looked at as the heart of soul of the Steelers’ defense for years. During his tenures with the team, Pittsburgh has won two Super Bowls.
The move to jettison the mouthy linebacker looks to be just the latest retooling of a team that allowed itself to get rather old over the last few years. Before the 2012 season began the Steelers let long time favorite and star wide receiver Hines Ward go.
Wide receiver Mike Wallace seems less likely to return to Pittsburgh after teams like the Minnesota Vikings have shown real interest. Harrison’s big contract is one of the reasons why many feel the Pittsburgh Steelers let the vocal defender go. Harrison’s cap number for the 2013 season was in the neighborhood of $10 million.
Harrison had also missed eight games over the last two seasons and recently turned 34. Those facts also likely were taken into account when the decision was made to cut the linebacker.
Once a non-drafted free agent in the 2002 class, Harrison set a franchise record 16 sacks in 2008. For his part, Harrison seemed to understand the move by his now former team.
The verbose veteran sent out a tweet that read in part, “It’s been a great run but everything must come to a end,” he added that he was going to miss the fan base that is referred to as Steelers Nation.
It’s been a great run but all good things must come to a end. Thank you Steelers Nation I will miss you all!
— James Harrison (@jharrison9292) March 9, 2013
Harrison also holds the Super Bowl record for length of interception return. During Super Bowl XLIII Harrison returned an interception for 100 yards and what was eventually the decisive touchdown in the game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Will the Pittsburgh Steelers miss James Harrison next season?