Kaboly Predicts 2012 Will Be Final Season For James Harrison With Steelers

Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review took to Twitter Saturday afternoon to predict that 2012 will be the final season for outside linebacker James Harrison in Pittsburgh.

Kaboly tweeted specifically, “I do believe that this will be Harrison\’s last year with Steelers. Either aren\’t going to afford him anymore or his back will get best of him.”

The prediction of Kaboly is certainly believable, and I posted similar thoughts this offseason, and most recently in my post on the possibility of a flat cap again in 2013. As I pointed out in late June, Harrison will be 35 next season and my records indicate that he will count $13.035 million against the salary cap in 2013. That hit consist of a $6.570 base salary, a signing bonus proration amount of $3.465 million, and a a $3 million LTBE incentive (Likely To Be Earned), which could very well be a roster bonus.

Harrison, who had a discectomy last offseason, followed quickly by another clean up procedure shortly thereafter, missed time during the OTA sessions and mini camp this offseason with an apparent knee or leg problem of sorts. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau tried to calm fears of the health of his linebacker during the last week of OTA\’s by saying that Harrison was fine and only had “a little bit of a pulled muscle.” Harrison also evidently told LeBeau that this is the best he has felt in three years, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

Now I am by no means trying to run Harrison out of town and I suspect neither is Kaboly. The former Kent State product could very easily return to full health this season and have another MVP type season. Keep in mind that Harrison still registered 9 sacks last year in 11 regular season games after missing 4 games with a fractured orbital bone suffered against the Houston Texans back in week 4. The time off actually did Harrison good in regard to his back, and upon his return to the lineup he registered a 3 sack game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Regardless of the season that Harrison has in 2012 though, his age and cap hit in 2013 will be tough for the Steelers to ignore. In addition, the Steelers are hoping that linebacker Jason Worilds, their second round draft pick in 2010, is finally ready to be a full-time starter, in what will be the final year of his rookie contract in 2013. When you add up all of the signs above, you certainly can see why Kaboly and I have come to the conclusions that we have with Harrison.

Who knows, Harrison might just want to walk away from the game after the 2012 season while he can still walk, as back problems don\’t improve.

Cap wise, the Steelers stand to save $8.105 million against the 2013 cap by releasing Harrison prior to having to pay him the roster bonus, if indeed that is what the LTBE is. It is certainly a harsh realization to face for sure, but it is a decision that the Steelers have had to make several times over the years with veteran linebackers. For now, just hope and pray that Harrison can stay healthy this upcoming season and terrorize quarterbacks like he has so many times over the years.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    There are many variable’s to the situation here…I felt there was a small chance he would be let go this year and there was a good chance if we felt Worlids is where we hoped he would be…but evidently he isnt. The same goes for next year as well…what is Harrisons health..do we have a guy who has enough talent to replace him…will Harrison renegotiate his contract…One thing is for certain and that is Deebo hasnt made the Steeler organization and his self look good with dumb comments and getting fined quite often…he also has off field issues with his wife…Worlids I believe is the big key here and if he steps up I think its a no brainer.

  • SteelersDepot

    couldn’t let him go this year. only would have been a cap savings of $635,000 with of all the dead money tied in.

  • YIKES!! True.. Harrison has got to go but a contract renegotiation would be ideal. I don’t see it, as Harrison would get high value elsewhere (AZ or MMA). We should invest in his replacement this season, maybe (however unlikely) a trade. How old is Peezy?

    Personally, he’s my favorite LB in the current group. He’s got Steeler written all over him. Gotta love the rep he brings.. If this is his last go-round, the dropoff in talent will be obvious.


  • Or just wait and see! Oh brother!

  • DoctorNoah

    I would love to see Deebo renegotiate for less and stay to retire as a Steeler. Is there any way to pay the guy without it counting against the cap? This is what you get when every year you kick the can down the road with renegotiated salaries – every later year counts more and more until the team’s calculus makes you unaffordable, then they drop you and you go free agent somewhere for a year or two and lose te ability to be a career Steeler with an Honorable Discharge. At some point, the Big Name Players will figure it out and stop renegotiating.

  • zyzak

    What exactly is a former Kent State product? Harrison has no replacement they will have to pay him

  • SteelSpine

    Thanks for including those other factors about Harrison. For some weird reason Steelers now have a trend of good/impactful OLBs who made dumb comments, he followed in the trend of Joey Porter & Lloyd. I agree with you on all that, except I never suspected Harrison would be let go thusfar because havnt had anything to replace him. I agree Worllds is the big key here, but that “if” (if Worlds steps up) sure has become a big shaky “if”.

    I’m not knocking Harrison’s performance when he’s on the field. Harrison’s back tho, his play cant be condusive to healing a back. He pass-rushes low like a torpedo to outside arm of OTs but OT’s then have to reach down & clothes-line him around the neck.

  • Intropy

    Harrison is obviously on the back side of his career, but I think people are jumping the gun a bit on him retirement wise. His injury-related absence last season was not the back, which would be a chronic concern. It was his broken eye socket, which was a freak accident neither likely to recur nor be a continuing issue. I agree that the back could be a problem, but even granting that it affected his play, he was still one of if not the best edge rusher in the NFL. There’s always the danger of age-related fall-off, but I just don’t foresee such a steep decline hitting that he goes from best in the business to off the team that quickly.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    Harrison’s health and production will determine what happens next year. Most of the money is already spent.

  • mokhkw

    Personally, I think the biggest “X” factor here is whether the NFL hands out any more BS suspensions to Harrison. He got 1 game last year, logic says if he gets found “guilty” of any more offenses he’ll get 3-4 games; if he has any more after that they may decide to make an “example” of him, similar to what has happened to Vilma.

    If he stays healthy & productive and doesn’t get in any more trouble he’ll be back in 2013, even if they draft his replacement. If his play slips (unlikely), he gets injured or suspended he’ll either be cut or asked to restructure. Unlike when Harrison replaced Porter, it’s obvious that Worilds is no where near Harrison’s level of play at this stage.

    Although he is 35, he got a late start to his NFL career and is one of the fittest & strongest players in the NFL.

  • JohnnyV1

    Just plain sillyness. 2013, on the eve of 2012 training camp? Kind of like advertising Christmas sales right after Halloween. I hope Harrison is healthy for 2012 and has a great season. Worilds is a worild away from replacing Harrison, or being an effective starter on defense. Hopefully Chris Carter (not the mouthy retired receiver) develop, our LB from 2011 draft..

  • Ahmad

    Yeah they could cut him or he could do us all a favor and take a pay cut himself. Hampton did this year so I don’t see why Harrison can’t do it next year. Besides we’ll need him to train the OLB that we will inevitably pick in either of the 1st two rounds next year.

  • The Steelers aren’t going to give up that kind of production as long as Harrison can perform. The back is fine now. The Steelers will work something out as long as Harrison is putting up the numbers. Worilds can’t do what Harrison does. He may even turn out to be a decent OLB but he will not put up Harrison numbers. We’ll have to wait and see how this plays out in the 2012 season. I put my money on Harrison.