The Cincinnati Bengals completed a deal today with free agent linebacker James Harrison.
Harrison was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2008. The Bengals went with the two-time champion over Karlos Dansby, the former Dolphins linebacker whom Cincinnati had been in negotiations with as well.The two-year deal brings the Bengals an added benefit because of Harrison’s former association with the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers. He spent the last nine seasons in Pittsburgh, winning those two titles and going to 5 Pro Bowls in addition.
Harrison’s stats have been impressive over his nine year career, with his best work coming in a 4-season span from 2008-2011. He made the Pro Bowl each of those season and amassed an impressive 45.5 sacks. There are, however, a few injury concerns with the embattled outside linebacker. He has missed 8 games over the past two seasons due to various injuries. Last season saw Harrison put up his lowest number of sacks, 6, since his 3rd season in the NFL. Still, if he can get completely healthy, he provides an intensity and edge that the Bengals previously lacked.
Cincinnati, meanwhile is trying to earn its 3rd straight playoff berth, appearing as a wild card team in 2010 and as division champions in 2011.