How many contracts has James Harrison signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers? By this author’s count, if you include practice squad signings, the number comes out to 10. Sometimes, you can’t get enough of a good thing. Yesterday, it happened again:
— James Harrison (@jharrison9292) March 1, 2017
The Pittsburgh Steelers resigned James Harrison to a 2 year contract that, if Harrison completes it, will keep him on the field for the Black and Gold through his 40th birthday. Can James Harrison continue to play as an impact player through age 40?
The odds makers would say no, but then again, would the odds makers have predicted an undrafted rookie free agent from Kent State who got cut 5 times before making his first NFL start winning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and authoring the longest play in Super Bowl history during Super Bowl XLIII?
- No they wouldn’t have, but James Harrison has a way of proving people wrong.
How important was James Harrison to Pittsburgh Steelers in 2016? Well, as this site observed in its free agent profile of James Harrison:
If you’re looking to define 1 decision that defined the Steelers 2016 turn around it was Mike Tomlin’s promotion of James Harrison to full time starter.
That choice by Mike Tomlin was the hinge that the Steelers season turned upon. When James Harrison said he wanted to come back, there was little doubt the Steelers would do what it took to make it happen.
James Harrison’s Impact on the Steelers Plans for 2017
James Harrison is the type of player who helps you win Super Bowls and that alone is sufficient reason to bring him back in 2017. But resigning James Harrison to his 10th contract is the smart move by the Steelers for other reasons.
- First, it gives the Steelers much needed flexibility heading into the 2017 NFL Draft.
Yes, the Steelers certainly need to draft another outside linebacker or “Edge Rusher” as they call them today and they need to do it early. But without James Harrison the Steelers more or less would have been forced to target that position in the first round at the expense of everything else.
- That was the situation the Steelers were in during the 2013 NFL Draft when they took Jarvis Jones at 17 in the first.
And we know how the Jarvis Jones experiment turned out. Locking James Harrison relives the Steelers of the need to reach in and gives them the freedom to address other needs and perhaps to move up or down as the draft evolves. Theoretically at least, the Steelers would also be free to experiment with moving Arthur Moats and/or Anthony Chickillo to the right outside linebacker.
Beyond that, this 10th and certainly final contract between James Harrison and the Steelers all but ensures that James Harrison’s career with the Steelers will end as it should – on his terms.