Maybe it was just a matter of time.
After only one year with the Bengals, former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison is actively campaigning for a return to the team that made him a star in the previous decade.
Harrison, soon to be 36, was interviewed Monday on NFL Network, and he made it clear he desires to finish his playing career in Pittsburgh.
The Steelers do have at least one opening at outside linebacker after they cut the underachieving LaMarr Woodley earlier this month. However, signing Harrison at a discount would also go against their apparent goal to get younger on the defensive side of the ball.
As far as the salary cap goes, Harrison could be a feasible fit.
ESPN.com’s Scott Brown reminds that the Steelers will receive more than $8.5 million in cap relief on June 1, when Woodley’s contract officially comes off the books. Harrison made just $1.2 million in base salary last year for the Bengals, who released him this winter.
According to Pro Football Focus, Harrison was above average in 2013 against the run, an area that has vexed the Steelers defense in recent years. He was mediocre defending the pass, although it’s doubtful he would be on the field in obvious passing downs if he signed with Pittsburgh.
Harrison, a five-time Pro Bowler and former NFL defensive player of the year, would clearly have to accept a part-time role to come back to the Steelers. Judging by his public comments, it stands to reason that he would.