Philadelphia Eagles v Pittsburgh Steelers

Update 2: March 9th 11:50 am

This has been a widely expected move all week (see below) after the Steelers weren’t able to reach an agreement on a restructured contract for their aging linebacker, although Harrison is still effective when healthy.

As we’ve seen with others in this Steelers era (i.e: Hines Ward), this is a management team that smartly sticks to a valuation of a veteran, and moves on if he’s exceeded that number.

The motivation here was cap room, as it always is in the final days before free agency begins (officially at least). The savings are significant for a team that’s pinned against the cap seemingly every offseason, as according to ESPN’s John Clayton the Steelers gain $5.15 million in cap room from this move alone, bringing their total cap space to $6.6 million.

Despite his age, Harrison will still be the most coveted outside rush linebacker behind Paul Kruger on the open market. He had six sacks this past season even while missing three games, and over the past three years he’s taken the opposing quarterback down 24 times, in addition to 10 forced fumbles during that stretch.

Update: March 8th 3:13 pm

USA Today’s Mike Garafolo reports the Steelers and Harrison continue to have issues coming to a deal that would see the Linebacker take a pay cut. Garafolo indicates it looks increasingly likely that Harrison will be released.
James Harrison’s time in Pittsburgh may be coming to an end. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Harrison and the Steelers are trying to work out a deal that would keep the five-time Pro Bowler in the Steel City, but Harrison doesn’t seem willing to take a dramatic pay cut.

Bill Parise, Harrison’s agent and a Beaver County resident, declined comment other than to say “We absolutely want to do this, we absolutely want to be in Pittsburgh.”

Harrison is scheduled to make $6.57 million in 2013 and $7.57 million in 2014 (none of it guaranteed), and Pittsburgh doesn’t want to swallow that big a salary for the almost 35-year-old linebacker.
In 13 games last season, Harrison had 49 tackles and 6.0 sacks.