This Sunday could mark the final time that we see linebacker James Harrison playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, some people within the Steelers organization believe that the team will sever ties with the hard-hitting veteran once their 2012 campaign comes to a close.
“The team, which has parted ways with beloved linebackers like Greg Lloyd and Kevin Greene in the past, has a difficult decision looming and some in the organization do not believe he will be back in 2013,” La Canfora said.
On top of suffering from numerous injuries in recent years, Harrison also comes with a significant cap hit ($10 million) that could force the Steelers to hand the veteran linebacker his pink slips at season’s end. To make matters worse for Harrison, Pittsburgh has a lot of capital tied up in fellow linebackers Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley. With those two already commanding big salaries, the Steelers can’t afford to continue flooding such a fortune into one position.
Over the past few seasons, Harrison’s production and effectiveness have declined as the NFL’s concern with safety has hindered his ability to play to his strengths. Injuries have also been a significant issue, having forced Harrison to miss several games in the last two seasons. With him out of the picture, the Steelers would also be able to give promising young linebacker Jason Worilds some more snaps.
After failing to making the playoffs in 2012, the Steelers should turn their attention to getting younger and healthier, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Unfortunately for Harrison, that means cutting some of the aging, injury-prone veterans out of the equation.
Don’t think that Harrison won’t find some work somewhere in the NFL, though. Although he’s lost a step or two, he still has the talent to be a solid starter in the right scheme. If the Steelers do part ways with Harrison, he won’t be on the open market for long.