One position that I was surprised to see the Pittsburgh Steelers not address during the 2014 NFL Draft was outside linebacker. While they did sign Shepherd’s Howard Jones as an undrafted free agent, you now have to wonder if James Harrison is in the plans to be brought back.
Currently, the Steelers have starters Jarvis Jones and Jason Worilds at outside linebacker with Chris Carter and Arthur Moats being the likely backups. That’s not going to be enough.
Keep in mind that Carter has yet to even play 250 snaps on defense since entering the league and that Moats has yet to really play much outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense since coming into the league as an undersized pass rushing defensive end.
Who else is there?
Harrison just turned 36 at the beginning of May and while his days of being a starter you can rely on playing 50 snaps a game are likely behind him, he can still likely be counted on for 300 snaps. In addition, his attitude and experience would likely be a welcomed sight in the Steelers locker room.
A drawback associated with bringing Harrison back is knowing that he wouldn’t be able to contribute on special teams. The Steelers, however, should have enough young linebackers on their final 53 man roster to make that a non issue. Outside of that, I really can’t see any other reason outside of his age not to bring him back for one more season.
If indeed Harrison is in the plans to be brought back, it won’t happen until after June 1 as that’s when the release of LaMarr Woodley will be made official which in turn will free up roughly $8 million in salary cap space. Will Harrison take the veteran minimum at this point along with a $65,000 signing bonus in order to finish his career in Pittsburgh? We won’t likely have to wait too long to find out the answer to that question.