Jan 8 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison (92) before the start of the 2011 AFC Wildcard Playoff game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

James Harrison unwilling to take pay cut to remain with Steelers

It isn’t much of a secret that the Pittsburgh Steelers will have to release or restructure the contracts of more than a few veteran players this offseason to get under the salary cap.

Many believe that the first casualty could be linebacker James Harrison, who is set to make $6.57 million in 2013 and $7.57 million in ’14.

Dec 16, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison (92) during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

That is a big cap number for a player that turns 35 in May, is coming off knee surgery a year ago and is two years removed from a pair of back surgeries.

Being that the Steelers have little to no depth at linebacker, it would make sense to bring Harrison back at a cheaper number. He’s nowhere near the dominant pass-rusher of a few seasons ago, but given what else the Steelers currently have at outside linebacker, Harrison is still more productive than the likes of Chris Carter and Jason Worilds, who is an even bigger injury risk than Harrison.

But there will be no hometown discount coming the Steelers way as Harrison seems unwilling to take a pay cut in order to return to the Steelers.

Harrison would restructure his contract, but teams generally don’t restructure the deals of 35-year old players with only two years remaining on them. However he doesn’t appear as willing to take less money. At the end of the day, those guys become cap casualties. Just ask Joey Porter, who went through a similar situation, as his release opened up the door for Harrison to make the money he is making.

“Can we help the Steelers by restructuring James’ contract? We’re certainly willing to do that,” Harrison’s agent Bill Parise told John Harris of the Tribune-Review. “Do we need to take less money? I don’t think so. Personally, I think he’s a bargain.”

That alone likely makes Harrison and ex-Steeler come March.

If that is the case, there will be 31 other teams lining up for his services, but he will have to take a pay cut anyway. He’s not a productive enough player anymore to warrant paying him close to $14 million over the next two seasons.

But he still has some value to the Steelers, as the Steelers are thin at linebacker.

But the sad part about sports today is that everything is about money and if Harrison still wants that big money, he will be earning it in another uniform.

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