Following the Steelers exit interview with star linebacker James Harrison, all indications from both sides is that Harrison will likely be back with the team in 2013.
The big issue regarding Harrison’s future with the team has been his $10.035 million cap hit in 2013. For now, that’s an issue Harrison’s agent is indicating they will be working with the Steelers on, if approached by the front office.
“We will work with the Steelers to help the cap,” agent Bill Parise told Inside Pittsburgh Sports this afternoon.
Cutting Harrison would save the Steelers approximately $5.1 million. Harrison is due a base salary of $6.57 million in 2013.
It took the 34 year old some time to find his mark after dealing with a knee injury to open the season but Harrison got healthier as the season went on and had 70 tackles, 6 sacks and 2 forced fumbles on the season.
In the season finale vs Cleveland, Harrison had 11 tackles and 1 sack in the win. Over his last eight games, Harrison had 51 tackles, 5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles, including games of 7, 8, 9 and 11 tackles during that span.
Largely the Steelers pass rush disappointed from the edge as LaMarr Woodley had an awful season, collecting just 4 sacks in 13 games.
Woodley who since the NFL lockout in 2011 has been regarded as being “overweight” and “out of shape” by some coaches behind the scenes, is a big concern moving forward as he’s showing signs of losing the explosiveness that once made him one of the games best outside linebackers.
Woodley signed a 60+ million deal in summer of 2011 and is due a base salary of $9 million in 2013 and carries a cap charge of $13.240 million. It will pain the Steelers brass to turn $8 million of $9 million salary into a signing bonus (players get money up front) to help the Steelers cap situation this off-season, based off the poor play Woodley has given them.
By large, third year OLB Jason Worilds was the Steelers most effective pass rusher in 2012, recording 5 sacks on the season and had limited snaps in the second half of the season.
Worilds though does not look like a star, which the Steelers need from their OLB’s in Dick LeBeau’ system. It will have a pass rusher as one of the top priorities in the draft.