What many suspected this offseason in the Steel City has come true. Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison was released by the team today.
Harrison’s last two years in Pittsburgh haven’t been as spectacular as the years preceding them. Injuries have slowed the 10-year veteran, which has made the Steelers’ defense not as dominant as before.
The release of the five-time Pro Bowler should definitely help Pittsburgh clear some more salary cap space in addition to the contracts that have already been reconstructed over the past couple of weeks. With the start of free agency quickly coming, the Steelers could use the space to fill some holes in the roster.
With Harrison gone, Pittsburgh’s defense will now have to rely on linebackers LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons and Jason Worilds to step up and try to improve on last season’s lackluster pass rush. Let’s not forget linebacker Sean Spence, who missed his entire rookie season due to injury.
This departure could almost make it certain that the Steelers will use their 17th overall pick in this April’s draft on an outside linebacker to not only replace Harrison, but to give Pittsburgh more depth at linebacker.
Now we’ll have to see if Harrison will be picked up anytime soon. If put in the right situation, I feel that Harrison could still be a productive pass rusher. I wouldn’t be surprised if he stays within the division. The Baltimore Ravens, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns all could use a situational pass rusher, and I’m pretty sure that Harrison wouldn’t mind facing his former team twice a year.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google