Unlike 2015, Steelers linebacker James Harrison is not a free agent. However, just like last year, the big question of the 2016 off season is Will James Harrison play in 2016?
Earlier this week Steelers fans who wish to see James Harrison don the Black and Gold for one final season got potentially good news from to different sources, and some (slightly) less encourage news from another.
Steelers' James Harrison talks with @gerrydulac: If healthy, 'I will play' another season https://t.co/WAxfq4ugny pic.twitter.com/JbAOBw1wYj
— Post-Gazette Sports (@PGSportsNow) February 17, 2016
Speaking to Steelers beat reporters, Pittsburgh Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert clarified in no uncertain terms that the team wants him back. As reported by Steel City Insider’s Jim Wexell, Colbert declared: “We’re anticipating he wants to continue playing and I wouldn’t see any reason we wouldn’t want to have James here.”
James Harrison’s agent Bill Praise offered similar sentiments: “I guess we will be there. This is not an announcement or anything like that, but we are under contract, and everything is going forward.”
- Harrison himself, isn’t quite so sure, although he has clarified one thing: He wants to come back.
However, he told Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that he will begin his off season training program in Arizona
I want to get back out there and get to at least six weeks of training and, by the end of that six weeks, feel good, not have any aches and pains. You’ll have the normal soreness, but not having aches and pains and be able to have movements will be the key. If I get to that point and I’m feeling good, there’s probably a good chance – no, not probably – I will play.
You can’t get any more clear than that. The next question is, should James Harrison come back?
The Case for James Harrison Returning to the Steelers in 2016
Really, this is a no brainer. At age 38, James Harrison led the Steelers outside linebackers in sacks. Yes, three of those did some in garbage time vs. the Colts, but if you look beyond the numbers, James Harrison showed an ability to make plays when it counted.
He’s also mentored the team’s cadre of younger linebackers which is something you simply can’t measure.
The Case Against James Harrison Returning to the Steelers in 2016
Just about the only logical argument against bringing James Harrison back in 2016 is that his presence on the field takes time away from the development of Jarvis Jones and theoretically Bud Dupree. While Jarvis Jones is far from being a “bust” at this point, his performance thus far has been disappointing.
- But the question in the NFL is can you play now, not two years from now.
Yes, it would be spectacular if Jarvis Jones’ would give us a burst of development that was so strong that made he made it hard for Mike Tomlin, Kevin Butler, and Joey Porter to find a way to get Harrison on the field, in the same way that Willie Parker “marginalized” Jerome Bettis and Duce Staley in 2005. That would be a good problem to have.
But it wouldn’t be an argument against bringing Harrison back.
Will James Harrison Play in 2016?
Harrison has uttered the key words: He wants to come back. And when James Harrison wants something, he sets his mind to it, he focuses on it, and he gets it. Just as Kurt Warner and Todd Haley….
Unless Harrison injures himself or discovers some unknown injury Silverback will be back in the Black and Gold for a final season.