We saw what happened when the Steelers tried to plug the gap with Carter - the results were abysmal.
The player who was perhaps most impacted by Harrison is Timmons. Prior to Harrison's return, Timmons averaged a mere 4 tackles per game and made no splash plays. After Harrison returned, he averaged about 7.25 tackles per game and recorded all of his sacks, INTs, etc.
Harrison not only remains a force - he elevates those around him.
The issue with Harrison is this - he's going to take up a lot of cap space regardless of whether he's kept or not. Can they replace his production for less than the dead money + salary of the replacement -- the answer to that is almost certainly no.
To restructure him this year you have to take some base salary and turn it into bonus between this year and next year. If you do that then you ensure yourself even more cap problems next year when you have no choice but to keep him on the roster or cut him and take all of that money you just restructured from 2012 and eat it as dead money.
I'd say you either make the choice now and cut him and suffer the consequences of worse play, or keep him at his full value this year and probably cut him with minimal dead money next year. Neither one seems like a particularly good option.
This is why I constantly harp about how we can no longer afford to have defensive player take a two year train up period. We need to have a defense they can step into and contribute right away because we may not be able to keep everyone we want to keep for their second contracts. The numbers just won't work and the system is unsustainable to get minimal production for two years out of a player when they are on three year contracts.
You are going to boast tackles for a 3-4 OLB? His job is to get to the QB. Mathews had 13 sacks. That is why he is in the PB.
JH was on the field for 6 of those 8 losses. He was on the field the last seven where the Steelers went 2-5. You say how horrible they looked against the Raiders...They gave up 34 points. Harrison was on the field at home when the gave up 34 to SD. THAT is what we got with JH playin. It isn't all on him by no means but he was not a difference maker. Woodley deserves alot of criticism too but he is much younger and has a workable contract. It is just business.
He gave the Steelers 6 sacks over 13 games he started. That would be 7 if he played 16 as a 3-4 OLB. 86 tackles & 7 sacks for a 35 year old 10 million dollar man is not worth it in my eyes! The same stats for 5 mil isn't worth it either if I have to let young talent go. That is where the Steelers are at. If he was late 20's with those numbers..He had a down year but this conversation wouldn't be taking place. Cheaper Alternate that may get that production...Worilds only started 3 games and had a significant less snap count than JH & he put up 26 & 5. I'm not saying Worilds is JH or ever will be but...Neither is JH.
We could argue all day about this issue. Bottom line is the Steelers went 8-8 holding on to aging vets. JH was one of many that didn't play up to par. He has regressed. Even 100% healthy...He isn't the same player. If you watched the games and he stood out...You were watching your DVR from years past. His production doesn't equal his contract and the Steelers can't afford to let talent walk out the door and over pay him. You believe he is...That is fine. If I'm the GM...The business side of the game tells me to say goodbye & Thanks. I could get his production at this point in his career out of Worilds & look for his replacment if I feel he isn't on the roster. I need to invest in the future of the Steelers...Not past icons.
If I was to guess how it goes down...It would be this. Harrison would have to take the pay cut to remain a Steeler. If he doesn't, they will cut him. Playing at 5 mil would be the same as 5 mil dead space. It would be a wash but minus 1 roster spot. I would be ok with cutting him or keeping him if he takes a pay cut. My personal feeling is he isn't worth the 5 mil and roster spot but that isn't up to me.
The OLB in the Steeler scheme has more responsibility than rushing the passer....However I will agree it is probably the main priority.
The defense was not an issue in the majority of the losses you are referring to...
He didnt play up to par because of injury...I would agree that it will be probably be difficult for him to regain his old form..but he still out performed Woodley.
I also agree that he is not worth the cap number...but who do we have to replace him? Certainly not Worilds...
Tough decisions and somehow we still need to increase QB pressure...
HOWEVER... if any player has earned a "Chance Card" (i.e. monopoly), it's Harrison. If I were the coaching staff, I'd talk with him. I'd get a sense of where he thinks he's at. Normally, I would never listen to the player because they'll obviously think they have "one more year" in them. In Harrison's case, I think he's earned it. If he seemed hungry and out to prove himself, I'd keep him. Otherwise, I'd let him walk.