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Thread: Harris: Cheaper to keep James Harrison

  1. #1
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    Harris: Cheaper to keep James Harrison

    Harris: Cheaper to keep Steelers’ Harrison

    By John Harris
    Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2013,



    Steelers linebacker James Harrison is willing to restructure his contract. Smart man.

    Harrison won't take a pay cut, however, and that stubborn streak could make him an ex-Steeler.

    Harrison is scheduled to earn $6.57 million in 2013 and $7.57 million in '14. That's a big salary-cap number for a pass-rusher who turns 35 in May, is coming off knee surgery a year ago and is two years removed from two back surgeries.

    Harrison may be banged up, but it's shortsighted to label him old. He's better than most of the young linebackers on the roster, who can't beat him out. He's still good when he isn't playing every down, but the Steelers aren't paying him all that money to be a part-time player.

    Which brings us back where we started. Are the Steelers better off with Harrison on their payroll, even in a more limited role, at a fraction of his salary? Yes, they are. To believe otherwise is delusional.

    Who on the Steelers' roster is better than Harrison at right outside linebacker? Jason Worilds? He's 10 years younger than Harrison, but an even bigger injury risk. Chris Carter? No, not the Cris Carter who just made the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a wide receiver.

    “I don't think anybody would argue at the end of the season that James Harrison was the best linebacker the Steelers had,” said agent Bill Parise, who represents Harrison.

    Parise is paid handsomely to say nice things about his client. Harrison wasn't the Steelers best linebacker in 2012 — Lawrence Timmons was. But Harrison was productive. In 13 games, he recorded 70 tackles and six sacks.

    What concerns the Steelers are the three games Harrison missed while recovering from knee surgery. When he returned, Harrison wasn't the same explosive force from four years ago, and the Steelers must decide whether to pay Harrison his full salary this year and next, restructure his contract to create a lower cap number, or release him.

    So let's take emotion out of what the Steelers should do regarding Harrison. The front office has to make a cold-blooded business decision, just as it did with Pro Bowl standouts Alan Faneca and Joey Porter.

    The Steelers should restructure Harrison's contract or ask him to take a pay cut. They can't afford to pay him $6.5 million next season, so find a number both sides can agree upon.

    Working in Harrison's favor is the Steelers' glaring lack of depth. The Steelers replaced Porter with Harrison and Faneca with Chris Kemoeatu. Their roster isn't deep anymore.

    Will keeping Harrison on the payroll make the Steelers a playoff team again? They were 8-8 with him in the lineup in 2012. Although Harrison was slowed by injuries, can the Steelers be absolutely certain he hasn't played his best football?

    Harrison is worth the gamble. The Steelers need Harrison because they aren't better without him. Letting him go would be a mistake.

    Football being a business, I have the perfect landing spot for Harrison if things don't work out with the Steelers: Cleveland.

    New Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, a former Steelers' minority owner, would consider it a major coup to sign Harrison, who was raised in nearby Akron. You better believe Haslam wouldn't ask Harrison to take a pay cut.

    “There's no list (of prospective teams),” Parise said. “We're not talking about it. We've certainly not even gone down that road. James loves Pittsburgh. I think the reason people are talking about James is because he's a higher salary guy.”

    At the same time, Parise said the Steelers made no assurances they won't release Harrison.

    New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw was released last week, a year after scoring the winning touchdown in Super Bowl XLVI. Bradshaw led the Giants in rushing each of the last three years, but he struggled with foot and ankle injuries and was scheduled to earn $4.25 million in 2013.

    “Could it happen? It certainly could. The NFL can cut any player at any time,” Parise said. “Having said that, if James Harrison was released, there would be 31 NFL teams interested in him.

    “Can we help the Steelers by restructuring James' contract? We're certainly willing to do that. Do we need to take less money? I don't think so. Personally, I think he's a bargain.”

    Personally, I think the Steelers could draft a linebacker in the first round to replace Harrison, but their future is now. It's cheaper to keep him.

    http://triblive.com/sports/johnharri...#ixzz2KgAhba1e

  2. #2
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    Trade him!
    Playing Fantasy Football does not qualify you to be the in the front office or on the coaching staff of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are professionals and you are not!

  3. #3
    Would Cleveland give a second rounder for him?

  4. #4
    I'm concerned about the Steelers continuing to restructure the big-money contracts of aging players...seems like it's setting up the team to keep having cap problems down the road. It's difficult to see the Steelers doing restructures for both Troy and James...but if they have to choose between the two, I'm not so sure Troy is the one they should keep.
    You're rolling the dice with either player, but it seems to me that Troy has been ineffective due to injury for a greater percentage of his games than James has. I thought Will Allen actually did quite a good job when Troy was out, but I'm not sure we have a suitable replacement for James (Allen is a FA, too, but shouldn't be too expensive to keep).

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by BradshawsHairdresser View Post
    I'm concerned about the Steelers continuing to restructure the big-money contracts of aging players...seems like it's setting up the team to keep having cap problems down the road. It's difficult to see the Steelers doing restructures for both Troy and James...but if they have to choose between the two, I'm not so sure Troy is the one they should keep.
    You're rolling the dice with either player, but it seems to me that Troy has been ineffective due to injury for a greater percentage of his games than James has. I thought Will Allen actually did quite a good job when Troy was out, but I'm not sure we have a suitable replacement for James (Allen is a FA, too, but shouldn't be too expensive to keep).
    That is what I have been saying. Need to just move on.

    I disagree about a Harrison replacement. Remember we are talking about the Harrison of 2012, not the Harrison of 2009 and 2010. I think Worilds can step in and actually be better than Harrison has been the past two seasons
    Playing Fantasy Football does not qualify you to be the in the front office or on the coaching staff of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are professionals and you are not!

  6. #6
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    Keep him 2013 will cost $6,570,000 out of Rooney's pocket. Release him....Costs you $0. Monies in bonus are monies already received. You can't find out what you got until Worilds sees the field for a season. The arrow is pointing down on Harrison. Part ways.



  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Oviedo View Post
    Trade him!
    This would be preferable to letting him walk for nothing, but I suspect that he will be difficult to trade based on his age and salary.

    That said, I think the defense will suffer without him as it did last year.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn View Post
    Would Cleveland give a second rounder for him?
    They don't have a second rounder - gave it up for Gordon.

  9. #9
    I read this article earlier today. Not being in Pittsburgh, I don't get to read these guys regularly, but I have learned a long time ago that this guy Harris is worthless as a reporter. Going on to this article, he starts his premise with this:

    Harrison won't take a pay cut, however, and that stubborn streak could make him an ex-Steeler.
    And only backs it up with this:

    “Can we help the Steelers by restructuring James' contract? We're certainly willing to do that. Do we need to take less money? I don't think so. Personally, I think he's a bargain.”
    So, the sole basis for his argument that JH will refuse a pay cut is that his agent publicly states that he is already a bargain. Well, that is his job, isn't it? To publicly stand strong behind his client?

    I'm not saying that this means that Harrison will take a pay cut, but I certainly would not base it as fact that he will not. All that aside, what I can see the team doing is offering him the opportunity to stay at a significant reduction. His contract is not tradeable as no team would be willing to give up another player or pick and also pay him $6.57M. Especially if that phone call is an indicator that the Steelers are ready to rid themselves of him. I would love to have him back at a number around 2.5M for 2013, which would give cap relief of around $4M and hopefully give us the opportunity to see if he can bring it one more time.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oviedo View Post
    Trade him!

    As much as it benefits the Steelers & all the mock drafters to do this, the Steelers won't, because that isn't how they do business. That would restrict James' ability to go where he wants. The Steelers will give him the opportunity to choose his future, not make it for him.

    They'll cut him. He probably already knows.
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