James Harrison’s Not Retiring – Can the Steelers Sign Him?

Don’t look now Steelers Nation, but James Harrison’s not retiring.

This isn’t some internet rumor, but comes straight from Silverback himself.

When James Harrison answered Mike Tomlin’s call to return following the Steelers loss of Jarvis Jones at Carolina, he vowed this would be his final act.

But as he got into football shape, it became increasingly evident that James Harrison still had plenty left in the tank. By mid-season Harrison had softened his “No return” vow. After the Steelers playoff loss to the Ravens, Harrison opened the door to returning, and promised to make a firm decision, acting as the anti-Brett Favre.

Silverback Returns, Will the Steelers Sign Him

Now that Harrison has confirmed his interest in playing, the race begins for his services. On paper the Steelers would appear to be an obvious favorite. But things don’t often play out in reality the way they do on paper.

  • The Steelers almost certainly won’t be the only team to jockey for Harrison’s services.

Harrison shares an incredibly tight bond with departed Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, who is now the Assistant Head Coach of the Tennessee Titans. Titan’s coach Ken Whisenhunt knows Harrison from his time in Pittsburgh, and has already opened the door to the possibility of him coming to Tennessee.

Bruce Arians also expressed interest in bringing Harrison to Pittsburgh West aka the Arizona Cardinals. While Harrison declined that offer due to Arizona’s distance from Pittsburgh, he’s apparently willing to travel there to train, presumptively he could be convinced to stay.

  • The Cardinals, who played 3 quarterbacks yet still made the playoffs, are certainly a team on the rise.

Now that it’s clear that James Harrison’s not retiring, his return to the Steelers is hardly a shoe in.

James Harrison’s Not Returning = Steelers Must Make Decisions

James Harrison’s non-retirement decision forces the Steelers hand in a way.

As Ed Bouchette outlined on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s blog, the best case scenario for the Steelers (and perhaps Harrison) would be to bring him in late in the off season if not after training camp had ended.

  • Now that it’s clear that James Harrison’s not retiring, the Steelers no longer have the luxury.

Conflicting reports have circulated out of the South Side that the Steelers coaches are determined to go with youth for the sake of going for youth. Another report holds that the Steelers won’t sign Harrison if they can come to terms with free agent Jason Worilds.

Yet, the Steelers don’t seem to think they can come to terms with Worilds and appear ready to let him test the market.

  • Do they still do that knowing that James Harrison might not be there as a fall back position?

The issue could also very well come down to money. If that’s the case the Steelers stand at a decided disadvantage. The Tennessee Titans have over 44 million dollars in available cap space. The Cardinals have close to 5 million available.

  • In contrast, the Steelers have just $700,000 to spend.

In its 2015 Free Agent Focus, Steel Curtain Rising sang James Harrison’s prasies and called on the Steelers to sign him. That was before Harrison has said whether he wanted to play or not. Now Debo said he’s playing in 2015. Hopefully he’ll play in Pittsburgh.

Thanks for visiting. Click here for the rest of Steelers 2015 Free Agent Focus.

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