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.