Found March 17, 2013 on SteelBlitz Steelers Blog:
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The Pittsburgh Steelers were forced to cut James Harrison a little over a week ago due to his salary cap number. Harrison was unwilling to take a pay cut from the Steelers that would have cut his salary number down to a little over $4 million and would have saved the Steelers over $3 million against the cap. Had Harrison agreed to the pay cut the Steelers would have been able to keep him around for another season, but instead both parties are left looking for a fix. Harrison isn’t getting much interest in free agency. There have been some minor rumors, but the biggest suitor for Harrison was considered to be the Baltimore Ravens. However, the Ravens are now looking to sign Elvis Dumervil who was recently cut by the Denver Broncos. Dumervil is younger than Harrison by almost six years. Last season Dumervil was much more productive than Harrison and if a team is looking for an outside linebacker they will likely target the younger and more productive player. The other team with the most interest in Harrison was the Cleveland Browns, but they already signed ex-Raven Paul Kruger to a big contract to be their newest pass rusher. Right now the only team with any rumored interest in Harrison is the Philadelphia Eagles who are rebuilding under new head coach Chip Kelly and are turning from their 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense. The Eagles outside linebackers aren’t set at this time and they could look to a player like Harrison to add experience and a leader to their defense. There is also a good chance that the Eagles could look at a pass rusher in the draft. One of the top outside linebackers in the draft is Oregon’s Dion Jordan. Jordan played for Eagle’s coach Chip Kelly at Oregon and he is now considered a top five pick. The Eagles hold the number four pick in the 2013 NFL Draft and they may be more willing to draft a top outside linebacker than sign an aging linebacker like Harrison. If the Ravens go out and sign Dumervil than their may not be any suitors left for Harrison. Or at least any that are willing to sign him to a contract to his liking. In that situation Harrison may be forced to sign a minimum contract with playing time and stat incentives. If he is willing to take a contract like that it’s possible that the Steelers would be willing to give it to him. They were willing to give him over $4 million for the 2012 season so if he agrees to play for around $1 million there is no reason to think he couldn’t be back with the Steelers in 2013. Right now the Steelers best replacement for Harrison is Jason Worilds. Worilds filled in nicely as a back-up for LaMarr Woodley on the left side of the defense. However, when filling in for Harrison on the right side of the defense he has struggled so he may not be the best option. I have argued for moving Woodley to the right side so that Worilds can continue to play on the left side where he has played well. Therefore, if they aren’t willing to play Worilds on the left side they could look into bringing back Harrison for one more season. The biggest issue with starting Worilds on the right side in place of Harrison is not his ability to get to the quarterback. Instead Worilds has struggled to hold the edge in the run game when playing on the right side. Woodley has shown a strong ability to hold the edge in the run game and should be able to play well against the run and pass no matter which side he is playing on; especially if he can stay healthy. However, if brought back Harrison could start or also pair with Worilds on the right side for the season as a sort of platoon as Worilds grows into the role. The Steelers will also be looking to draft another outside linebacker in the 2013 NFL Draft. That player will than be groomed with the hope that they can one day start. It will also give the Steelers four young players in hopes that one can take over as a full-time starter in 2014. Those players are Worilds, Chris Carter, Adrian Robinson and whoever the Steelers choose to draft this April. There is also the chance that Harrison will sign elsewhere and that the Steelers will go with a draft pick or Worilds as Harrison’s replacement. In that case the Steelers should truly consider switching Woodley to the right side of the defense. It may be the best option they have at this point to replace Harrison with as little loss as possible.
4 Comments:
  • Move on from Harrison before you lose Worilds next year like you've lost Keenan Lewis.
  • Why does everyone think of losing Lewis was a big deal? I am glad he is not coming back. When Taylor went down the secondary fell apart. This is the same guy that could not win a job against Gay. Lewis finally won the job against inexperience youngsters. Lewis cost the Steelers wins last year. Tennessee, Dallas, and Cincinnati. I also think that it is laughable that people think the Steelers signed Gay to replace Lewis. Cortez Allen will start and the signing of Gay was for depth at the position.
  • You say the secondary fell apart? Not on Lewis side. Infact Lewis outplayed Ike all year. Although Josh Victorian got torched in Dallas, He was just signed off the street. Every week He got better and was the reason Cortez Allen got an INT.
    Lewis & Allen were the future. Ike Taylor is 33 yrs old making 7 million and should of been cut to save money and pay for Lewis. Now The Steelers are likely to waste a pick in the draft on a CB instead of both Safety positions.

    William Gay was signed as insurance incase they didn't resign Lewis. Gay will be the NB but can play outside if Cortez falters or gets injured. Signing Gay was very smart pickup.

    The Steelers could still sign some free agent starters or depth and release some aging vets to get it done. Elvis Dumervil is worth a shot however I'd love to see Worilds do the job and it may be cheaper to sign Victor Butler.
  • Stop with inflaturation with Lewis! Lewis stinks! He could never beat out Gay when Gay was in Pittsburg or McFadden for that matter. Finally got the starting role against inexperienced players. Taylor proves it year in and year out. If Lewis was so good that is why the organization came to conclusion...LEWIS STINKS!
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