1. C.J. Mosley LB Alabama
2. Jordan Matthews WR Vanderbilt
3. (comp) Philip Gaines CB Rice
4. Arthur Lynch TE Georgia
5. Ross Cockrell CB Duke
5. (comp) Derrick Hopkins DT Virginia Tech
6. Josh Mauro DE Stanford
6. (comp) Shaquil Barrett OLB Colorado State
7. Quincy Enunwa WR Nebraska
Bummer- it was James posting on Instagram. It was showing him doing some lower back exercises with a LOT of weight.
Starkey: James Harrison, come on down!
By Joe Starkey
Published: Saturday, March 22, 2014
Are the Steelers really desperate enough to bring James Harrison back?
We both know the answer to that question.
If this team had any semblance of depth at outside linebacker — that is, an oxygen-exchanging humanoid other than Chris Carter — I'd say it was a bad idea.
If their depth chart didn't have more holes than Augusta National, I'd laugh at the notion.
If their defense wasn't coming off something other than a hugely embarrassing season in which it surrendered 55 points and 610 yards in a single game, I'd say forget about it.
But they are riddled with holes. They have no depth. And their defense stunk. So how could it hurt to sign Harrison to a veteran-minimum deal? The man did some decent work in Cincinnati even though he played only 35 percent of the snaps and fit into the Bengals' 4-3 scheme about as well as Casey Hampton would fit in a tutu.
Harrison, you might have heard, expressed interest in returning to Pittsburgh during an NFL Network interview last week. The Steelers should take the cue. They could use a spare pass rusher. If Harrison shows up with nothing left, then by all means cut him (it wouldn't be the first time) at minimal cost. No harm, no foul.
Best case, Harrison becomes the defensive version of a late-stage Jerome Bettis, a Steelers legend willing to play a small but critical role in his final act. For Bettis, it was as a short-yardage and late-game battering ram. For Harrison, it could be as a situational (and late-game) pass rusher and maybe a short-yardage defender.
This is a low-risk proposition for a desperate team, one that is watching the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos lap the AFC in a barrage of offseason moves. Given their largely self-made cap issues, nobody thought the Steelers would do as much as they've done (retain Jason Worilds, sign a $25 million deal with Mike Mitchell, add Lance Moore). But it pales in comparison to what the AFC powers are doing.
Harrison turns 36 in May. He wouldn't be competing for a starting job, although it's worth noting that in about 250 fewer snaps, he had twice as many sacks (two) as Jarvis Jones. Some might worry that he can't play special teams anymore (he never could long-snap). They shouldn't worry so much. Lots of guys can play special teams.
Harrison's locker-room presence and workout habits wouldn't hurt on a defense that is getting younger, although the Steelers don't need a strength-and-conditioning coach. They need help tackling quarterbacks. Harrison showed in Cincinnati that he still can play. That is what people who covered the team tell me, and there is statistical evidence to back the assertion.
Take these numbers any way you like, but the people at ProFootballFocus.com rated Harrison as the Bengals' second-best linebacker last season with a grade of 8.4, behind only Vontaze Burfict. Bengals coaches had Harrison with eight quarterback pressures, and he tied for the team lead with four “stuffs” — a stat defined by sportingcharts.com as “the defense denying a running play at or before the line of scrimmage” usually in jumbo-package situations (to paraphrase Mike Tomlin, you people have way too much time on your hands). For comparison sake, Troy Polamalu led the Steelers with six stuffs.
None of which is to suggest Harrison was a high-impact player or would be here. But he wasn't the useless shell of a man some have portrayed him as, either.
At minuscule risk, the Steelers should kick the tires. If Harrison kicks back, you'll know it's the right move.
Colbert non-commital on Harrison
GM Kevin Colbert said it's wait-and-see on James Harrison's possible return to the Steelers.
Decisions, decisions. Some made, some pending. That’s the way it is for NFL teams as the calendar creeps toward the end of March, and what’s also true at this time of year is there are some things that are most interesting in theory.
One of the interesting-in-theory issues right now involving the Pittsburgh Steelers has to do with whether to bring James Harrison back to the team.
In 2008 Harrison was voted NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and for an encore that season authored one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history when he intercepted a Kurt Warner pass and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown on a day ending with the Steelers winning their sixth Lombardi Trophy.
In 2013, four seasons later, Harrison and the Steelers couldn’t agree on a reduced salary and so he was released after 10 seasons and 64 sacks. Following an 11th NFL season, in Cincinnati, where he was mis-cast in the Bengals’ 4-3 defense, Harrison, who will be 36 in May, was released. That led to Harrison’s appearance on an NFL Network broadcast during which he expressed an interest in returning to the Steelers to finish his career where it started.
“We’re never going to close the door on any possibilities at this point,” said General Manager Kevin Colbert, “and especially with a guy who is a huge part of your success. With that being said, we have to see what is best for our team as we continue to go through this free agency period. There might be other outside linebackers who could help us as well. Like I said, we’re just going to continue to look and see as to what’s out there. As long as James is available, (bringing him back) obviously remains an option, but it’s something that we have to decide if it’s the best thing for the organization at that point.”
DEPTH AT OLB
The Steelers are in the market for depth at outside linebacker, because they faced an either-or decision with regard to LaMarr Woodley and Jason Worilds.
“It was going to be hard to be able to keep both guys if the monies got to where they were,” said Colbert. “I was asked (whether we could keep both guys) earlier in the winter. Well yes, we could have, but at what cost to the rest of what we wanted to do? When we really started to analyze where it was going to be, we felt free safety was going to be the first target. Once we were able to take care of that, it was going to be hard to be able to keep both LaMarr and Jason.
“Jason is coming off a highly-productive year and LaMarr wasn’t. We had to make a tough call. Any time you release a guy who’s part of your success, it’s never easy, especially when you think that player still has some football left in him, as we do believe with LaMarr.”
The Steelers secured Worilds’ services through a transition tender of $9.754 million, and that number will remain on the team’s salary cap for 2014 unless a long-term deal that lowers it is worked out. Team management is interested in working out a long-term deal, but no progress has been made on that yet.
“Once Jason was secured with the transition tag, then we just went about our business with guys who weren’t secured, other unrestricted free agents,” said Colbert. “We’ll see where it goes with the rest of free agency and the draft and see if it makes sense for both sides. When we use the tag, we always use it with the thought of trying to get the player signed to a long-term deal. That is certainly our hope, and I believe that’s Jason’s wish as well. So usually when you both have the same goal, it will work out at some point.”
REPLACING COTCHERY WITH MOORE
The other either-or move the team made was a recent one – the signing of Lance Moore to answer the loss of Jerricho Cotchery to the Carolina Panthers.
“I would say (losing Cotchery) was a disappointment because he was a productive guy for us and really found his niche and had a comfort zone with Ben, which was nice,” said Colbert. “Other people saw that same production, and they were able to do some things financially that we weren’t able to do. Jerricho had to make some decisions. He also had a little bit of an attraction to that area because of where he went to college (North Carolina State) and where his wife is from. You respect that and understand that. We wish him luck.”
That opened a spot for Moore, and he and the Steelers quickly came to an agreement on a two-year contract.
“We lost two veteran receivers in Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho, and I think Lance gives us a little bit of what each of those guys could give us,” said Colbert. “We knew we weren’t going to be able to keep both Jerricho and Emmanuel, so we looked at veteran receivers to have available. Lance got cut (by the Saints) and all of a sudden was in the mix. He’s a very smart, experienced receiver who knows how to work in the slot. He’ll be 31 in August, so there is still some good football left in Lance Moore and we’re excited he was available to us when we went to sign him.”
Marvin Lewis wishes Bengals had used James Harrison more
Posted by Curtis Crabtree on March 25, 2014
Linebacker James Harrison’s tenure with the Cincinnati Bengals lasted just one season as the team elected to release Harrison on March 13.
Harrison had his least productive season, statistically, since becoming a regular starter for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2007. Harrison made 10 starts in 15 games for the Bengals last season and compiled just 30 tackles with two sacks and an interception.
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis wishes they had found ways to utilize Harrison more last season.
“I wish we could have got him on the field more often. I feel bad about (that),” Lewis said, in an interview with Alex Marvez and Adam Caplan on Sirius XM NFL Radio. “I thought we’d have an opportunity to really get him out there more often but the way offense dictated to us, we didn’t get that chance very often.”
Lewis said the Bengals feel confident about the potential of linebackers Emmanuel Lamur and Jayson DiManche, which was part of the reason the team felt comfortable moving on from Harrison. But Lewis still speaks highly of Harrison’s time in Cincinnati and what he brought to the locker room as well as the field.
“James was a tremendous role model and example of how you play the game. He’s a great man. He did a great job for us this last year. He really helped us immensely, helped us win the division. He made critical plays at critical moments.”
Harrison remains a free agent. He wants to return to the Steelers and the two sides appear to have mutual interest over a possible reunion. Harrison played his first 10 seasons in Pittsburgh.