To Deebo, Or Not To Deebo: That Is The Question

On the Monday evening episode of NFL Total Access, veteran linebacker James Harrison predictably hinted that he’d like to return to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2014, but at nearly 36 years of age, you have to wonder if his former team reciprocates that feeling.

The Steelers are void of any depth at the outside linebacker position now that LaMarr Woodley has been jettisoned. Currently, the inexperienced and underwhelming Chris Carter is the primary backup to Jason Worilds and Jarvis Jones and the free agent market looks very unappealing as well.

While the Cincinnati Bengals defense certainly wasn’t a fit for Harrison last season, the former undrafted free agent looked like a shell of his former self just the same. There’s a reason why he only played just over 400 snaps last season including the playoffs. Do you really think he can play much more than that in 2014 with the Steelers?

If for some reason the Steelers do decide that they want Harrison back, the most they can give him is a one-year qualifying contract for the minimum and that means a base salary of $955,000 with a signing bonus no greater than $65,000. That kind of contract would carry with it a $635,000 cap charge.

Even if Harrison were to be brought back, how would he be used? Would you start him at right outside linebacker to start the season in place of Jones and run him until his wheels come off? Would you really only use him as a situational pass rusher and move Jones inside on obvious passing downs?

Keep in mind that Harrison’s not going to play special teams and his body is ticking time bomb. Sure, the Steelers can use his experience, but it’s his experienced body they can do without. Unfortunately for him, I think it’s time for him to hang them up.

  • DoctorNoah

    Ticking time bomb maybe, but I doubt he’s in bad shape, he’s still more imposing than Jarvis Jones, and I think he missed more time with a broken face than with any training or conditioning-related soft tissue injury. Bring him back and let him retire in Black and Gold.

  • 20Stoney

    It all sounds good on the surface, but when you factor in taxes, agent’s fees and what he pays people to keep his body working, he’d probably be playing for a loss. He’d also have to play special teams. Will or can he do that at this point?

  • Paddy

    He is better than Jarvis Jones all day long

  • Steelers12328882

    Steelers lack depth in so many areas, and the OLB position is one of them. Because of that signing him is a realistic option when you consider Chris Carter is the backup, and he shouldn’t even be on an NFL team. He’s horrible! Jarvis Jones is teetering on bust status. Take what you can get.

  • dgh57

    Nearly 36 years of age or not he has to be better than Chris Carter!

  • NW86

    While I think that is stretching it a little, your point stile holds. The income he has left would be fairly negligible for a guy that has already made tens of millions. Plus, I still think his pride would make it difficult to accept the minimum.

    I wouldn’t mind if the Steelers made this offer. It would be worth it to use him as a rotational guy with Jones, plus that would give them depth in case of an injury on the other side. But I don’t see them offering more than the minimum, and I don’t see James accepting that.

  • NW86

    Oops, this was meant as a reply to Stoney. This is why I should do this in my phone.

  • Nolrog

    I would not bring Harrison back at all. We need to move on.

  • Jason

    Bust status? Really, after 1 season? Using this reasoning Heyward should have been cut long ago. Granted his rookie year wasn’t amazing but he showed some flashes let’s give him a chance.

  • srdan

    So….you are comparing a DMVP to a rookie?

  • cp72

    Remember people calling Troy….Troy Bustamalu after one season. He turned out to be decent.

  • srdan

    This is a no brainer. Give him 200-250 snaps this year.

    He may be getting old, but he takes care of himself and others. His career didn’t start until his late twenties, so there is some tread left.

    Plus I get to wear my jersey again.

  • cp72

    Jarvis will have 6 to 8 sacks next year. He has talent just needs some time.

  • 20Stoney

    Last year, didn’t he claim to pay his people something like 700K to keep him going? It was some huge amount. I’m going by memory so I could be wrong on the number.

  • 20Stoney

    I found it. It’s 4-600K a year.

  • DoctorNoah

    We’ve brought in a lot of players after they played elsewhere for a year and didn’t have success. Will Allen, Larry Foote, etc. Deebo will be a success in our system.

  • Jason

    Yeah, Troy’s ok I guess. An I don’t recall Harrison making a big splash his rookie year and he ended up ok as well. Maybe Jarvis can follow in their bust footsteps to be DPOY as well.

  • DB84

    Dont forget the stellar rookie seasons of Worilds and Timmons. It is amazing how little patience some people have.

  • Axe Skot

    Both sides put aside egos. Make it happen. Let LeBeau decide who starts and where based upon performance. You want to motivate your linebacking corps? Put it to competition.

  • srdan

    We live in an instant gratification society. We don’t want to wait. In the eighties and early nineties, most thigns we bought came unembarrassed. Today, everything we buy comes assembled with batteries.

  • Steelers12328882

    I said teetering. He could turn out to be just fine, but 1 sack with as many snaps as he took on a defense that prides itself on getting to the quarterback especially from the ROLB position was not good. I was never a fan of drafting a ROLB that runs a 4.9 anyways so I’m a bit biased. My point is that Deebo would be a welcome addition to a position that is very very thin.

  • patrick Mayfield

    absolutely bring him back so long as he understands that he’s not the de-facto starter and the money is in-line with that role.

  • joed32

    Yep, James was released 3 times before finally making as a special teams player. The following year he got to play

  • The Great Mr Slippery

    In that case. I really hope jarvis jones is a bust like these guys.

    Put some muscle on him and he’ll be a stud in a couple years

  • Eric MacLaurin

    It’s a little unfair to talk about a min offer and if he should be starting.

    The issue in my mind is if he helps more than Carter and I think he would. We might loose on special teams but That can be made up somewhere else.

  • Tom

    I must admit that I am kind of torn about this idea. I was very disappointed to see Harrison leave last year, I thought he could still play at a high level. I never saw him as a good fit in the Bengals system, so I am not sure that his “stats” accrued last year are a true reflection of his current abilities. While I would not be so hasty to classify Jarvis as a bust after one season, I would say that he has yet to prove that he can play high caliber NFL football.

    Yet part of me thinks that his best days are far behind him and that a younger player with potential would be a better choice to hold the roster spot.

  • Douglas Andrews

    To Deebo he can give us one year of depth, experience and use him as a situational pass rusher with limited snaps he should hold up. I think it’s a great idea.

  • PA2AK

    James at 36 or James for career…I think the two are very different. JJ was underwhelming last year but no way Harrison would beat him out in a camp battle THIS year. As for signing him…they should keep that chance on the table. Worlds, jones, carter? That’s what we got? We will need contributing depth at OLB. Even if it’s only 200 snaps.

  • PA2AK

    Troy Harrison a.b…..the list goes on, and that’s just guys that play in the burgh. What a comment!?

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    Jarvis Jones is a decent linebacker, one of worst pass-rushing specialist in NFL though and that is why I want Deebo back. Jones have no business starting as a pass-rusher with that 4.9 forty yards dash along with weak body. He’s much of a bad fit as Ziggy Hood is AND at least Hood have athleticism to flashes from time to time! I already called Jones a bust even before he got drafted, before his athleticism numbers were displayed, watching the Georgia vs Alabama in the SEC Champion, it was obviously the Alabama offense didn’t gave him attention like they did with Ogletree, in matter of fact they DIDN’T mind him pass-rushing! He was a benefactor of the defense talents Georgia had (they had what, 6 or 7 NFL talents by the time?)

    This is coming from the guy who didn’t called Polamalu a bust… Hood, Sweed, and others neither- I always try to give players benefit of doubts first but Jarvis Jones is an entirely different story- he’s Carlos Emmons 2.0 whom the defensive coordinator were in love with because he is a tackling machine with high IQ but when it come to pas-rushing, he’s literally nobody. I never questioned Kevin Colbert’s decisions in past; at least they were logic but Jones? Man, I still an pissed about the pick, I was the only guy who left the draft party I hosted.

    Point being? Sign Deebo, let him be a pass-rushing specialist because as a pass-rusher, he’s still got it but don’t get him to do much more; use Jones for that. Jones belong to inside his production will be showed more. Draft/develop a pass-rusher in the draft! We need one more pass-rushing specialist.

    By looking at Cotchery’s situation right now, you just don’t gamble and think you can wait it out for price to go lower. You just don’t gamble, especially if you are in a win-now mode.

  • CW

    I’m fine with bringing him back if the linebacker coach wants Harrison back. He might be down to a situational rusher at this point, but he could provide a valuable backup for a year or two if he’s still got the speed and strength to play close to his old level. Seeing as Chris Carter is probably done soon James Harrison could make a valuable contribution just helping the next young linebackers develop seeing as the Steelers will probably take another pass rushing DE/OLB this draft.

  • AndyR34

    That…remains to be seen. He hasn’t shown it yet and had plenty of opportunity. He had more snaps last year than most rookie LB’s do in two!

  • StrengthOfVictory

    Seems pretty sticky to bring him back. He was cut for a reason, and money was only part of it. I’ll always love Harrison as a Steeler, but I don’t want him starting. Sure, I’d rather have him step in if Worilds or Jones goes down, but is that enough of a reason to bring him back? I can’t imagine the team won’t address LB in the draft.

    What does it say to Jason and Jarvis…presumably your future at the position…to bring back a vet?

  • Jason

    I would agree with that and like I said Jones certainly didn’t have an amazing rookie year, far from it. A full sophomore season with similar numbers would alarm me a lot more. I’m not opposed to bringing 92 back in a limited role for the right salary if his ego will allow it.

  • Jon Crissinger

    This reminds of when Willie Parker pulled the same thing. Of course James Harrison can probably still contribute and provide valuable depth though. Fast Willie was done. If you can get Harrison to play special teams I would take him back in a heartbeat, he was a beast.

  • Pete Johnson

    It would be a waste of a roster spot but honestly what other choice do we have at this point? We have 2 starting OLB who are question marks for one reason or another, and a bunch of nothing behind that. I mean Harrison is just a warm body at this point but at least he knows the defense.

  • steelster

    He would be a one year fix. That solves nothing and he can’t play special teams, next.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I look at our situation more than Harrison’s at this moment. We have really only 2 OLB’s and in need of a vet who can step in and play a few snaps. Harrison can fit this bill and meanwhile you have a rookie get some valuable exp. I do not know if we have much choice

  • Paul Hoover

    Man.. The young lb’s learning from James Harrison and porter and the master of defensive coordinators …..WOW !!!! Awesome

  • patrick Mayfield

    a fix that solves nothing?

  • mlc43

    Got to agree with Patrick here. If you believe he’s a one year fix and we get him cheap, that’s a good thing. We have so many needs that being able to fix one of them for a year would be mighty handy.

  • steelster

    It solves nothing in the long run, sorry should have been more specific.

  • steelster

    the more I think about it I don’t see him as a fix, we have porter to teach jones how to play.

  • srdan

    Great point. Forgot what he did on ST.

  • Jon Crissinger

    To these day, I’ve still never seen anyone play special teams as violently as James Harrison. I still have the image of him crushing Ed Reed firmly ingrained in my memory.

  • Lucus Rodriguez

    I honestly don’t see the trouble in brining him in for depth at the minimum. losing one roster spot on special teams shouldn’t hurt too bad.

  • sean mcmartin

    yeah keep one sack jarvis jones with noone to back him up , Even one offseason is not enough time for him to get as big as deebo. or as angry.
    It will also be good for the o-line to go against a big LB in practice.
    Harrison might play with a chip on his shoulder knowing half the fans think he is washed up.

  • Rob Dove

    James would be useful as a situational player. He may only have x number of snaps in him per game and that is fine. Rotations would keep all the guys fresher and what he has lost in youth he makes up for in experience. I believe the last year he was here and coming off an injury he had more sacks than 3 of our other linebackers combined. He also may have the inside power to play run stuffer in a pinch, should injury arise. Harrison is an excellent tackler and was not used as an outside 3-4 linebacker in cincy but as a 4-3 linebacker very different roles between the two. If someone comes along that we could sign that is markedly better that is fine but I do not think they are out there at a price we can afford. James also knows what he is supposed to do in our scheme and that would be a huge advantage over the prospects from other teams.

    James also does something few of our defensive players now do, he scares opponents. Many guys coming over the middle will develop alligator arms or have the concentration devoted to Harrison instead of securing the ball.

    He may not have an entire season left in him but what he has may be an upgrade over what we had last year.

  • Rob Dove

    Might not be Colbert who is wild about the guy. There are lots of other people in the room as well and with the input that goes into the choices it is hard to tell who is at fault. We have had a lot more bad drafts lately than previously so I would not be tossing it on Colbert’s shoulders. One of the Rooneys for example did the scouting on fast Willie Parker. There are lots of cooks in that kitchen and they all stir the pot.

  • Rob Dove

    It says last year you were not ready. It also says this year we will have help while you are getting ready and improving your craft.

  • Steve

    James is an accident waiting to happen. After 2 back sugerys, would take one good hit and he can bring it but at 36 he needs to hang it up.

  • MC

    Id rather him come in a spell either Jones or Worilds instead of Carter!
    With backup reps, im sure he can make an impact coming off the bench fresh while everyone else is playing the whole game. He will also add a bit of that anger and intimidation while he’s out there. Carter will only give you a missmatch for the offense to exploit..
    Vet minimum for one year, and draft an OLB in round 4 or 5 to battle Carter for depth going forward…

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    I get what you are saying but who make the call? Colbert. Anytime there are a bad pick, it won’t be on those “few scouts” with bad reports. It’ll be on Colbert, its his accountability.

  • CrazyTerry

    Colbert may not be able to scout every single player out there and will hve to trust his team on that. But a GM has to know his first round pick thoroughly. Colbert most definitely did his own individual scouting of Jarvis JOnes at some point before the draft and so far Jones is looking like their worst first round pick in terms of value in a long time. What I need to question are those national TV based scouts that sold us a bill of goods on this guy and we were told that if he didn’t have a spinal condition, he would be taken top 5.Really? Even if he may end up showing that he is worthy of first round status(I really hope he does), I definitely do not see anything in this guy that is remotely top 5 NFL draft talent.

  • CrazyTerry

    Are you counting on the opposing QB or RB falling on his own feet 6or 8 times next year?

  • CrazyTerry

    Who says a starter should not play STs? Let Jarvis play STs and James can spell him in regular D snaps.

  • patrick Mayfield

    Your #3 OLB isn’t a coach – he’s a player and he’s going to play at some point. If injuries strike he might start all season. Right now you have a problem in the depth. Right now the best you have is Carter or move Timmons again.

    Harrison would fix that better than any player the team can afford. No one thinks he’s a long term fix and I think you’ll see a OLB in the draft on day 3 who will hopefully make you comfortable in the depth a little so you won’t need to lean on Harrison next year.

  • Rob Dove

    it could be Tomlin or one of the Rooneys or a consensus among coaches. Just because someone has a title in a small organization like a football team does not mean they have absolute authority associated with it.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    The FO and Rooneys didn’t promoted Colbert to General Manager for no reason. Jarvis Jones WAS his pick. Rooney and Tomlin may have played factors in the decision of that pick but! It is Colbert’s job to tell them why he was a good/bad pick. With amateurs’ eye, even we COULD see how and why Jarvis Jones was a bad pick/fit let alone his athleticism was sub-par. I assure you, the other scouts saw same. At the end of day, it was Colbert’s call as always.

    Rooney let Noll picked “Senor Sack” over Dan Marino, THAT wrapped everything up man.