Steelers unfazed by Patriots signing James Harrison
The Pittsburgh Steelers made headlines this week by releasing veteran linebacker James Harrison with just one more game left in the 2017 NFL season. In an unsurprising turn of events, the New England Patriots quickly scooped up Harrison to help fortify their thin edge rush.
While watching their franchise leader in sacks go to a bitter AFC rival would be a sore sight for any team, it seems the Steelers were not deeply affected by the turn of events, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler:
The reaction I got from a few Steelers people Tuesday night was mostly indifference while acknowledging the business side of football. They greatly respect Harrison and feel he should be free to sign with anyone. After all, he was released. Take the next job available. One player commended Harrison for double dipping on salary. Harrison got a $500,000 signing bonus and most of his $1.2 million salary from his two-year deal with Pittsburgh, then claims a per-week clip of about $58,000 with New England (the $1 million veteran minimum split per game).
While the release of Harrison may have seemed like a business decision for the Steelers, there is some speculation that is not entirely the case. Pittsburgh had initially announced the decision as a corresponding move for the return of right tackle Marcus Gilbert. However, the 39-year-old saw a tremendous decrease in playing time this year with the emergence of linebackers T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree.
That said, it is possible Harrison may have wanted out after playing just 40 snaps in 14 games this season. Regardless of how the Steelers feel about it, there is no doubt that some concern may be raised should these two teams potentially square off down the road.