In a move that counts as disappointing, if not terribly surprising, Pittsburgh Steelers reserve offensive tackle Ryan Harris has announced his retirement.
Ryan Harris’ ride with the Steelers was, in a word, short.
The Steelers signed Ryan Harris last year in free agency after losing Kelvin Beachum to the Jacksonville Jaguars to provide depth and/or competition to Alejandro Villanueva for the left tackle spot. Harris had been drafted by the Denver Broncos in 2007, played there for four years, spent 2 in Houston, one in Kansas City only to return to Denver in time for their Super Bowl run.
That stint as the Steelers starting right tackle didn’t last long, however, as Ryan Harris would suffer a leg hematoma and was done for the year.
Impact of Ryan Harris’ Retirement on Steelers Free Agency & Draft Plans
Given the serious nature of Ryan Harris leg injury, the Steelers certainly knew Ryan Harris’ retirement was a possibility, if not a probability and the move explains the Steelers decision to offer a 1.85 million dollar right of first refusal tender to Chris Hubbard.
- Marcus Gilbert and Alejandro Villanueva are set as the Steelers starting tackles, with Chris Hubbard as their the swing tackle backup.
This would have likely been the case regardless of Ryan Harris’ decision to retire. The Steelers are also counting on Jerald Hawkins, their 4th round pick from the 2016 NFL Draft, to return and compete for a roster spot. It is unlikely the Steelers would invest salary cap dollars into a backup offensive tackle via the free agent market, but the absence of Ryan Harris could boost the need or desire to draft an offensive tackle in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Ryan Harris Steelers Experience Had Quality, if it Lacked Quantity
While he only suited up for four games with the Steelers, that was long enough for Harris become emersed in “the Steelers way.” As Ryan Harris told Steelers Digest’s Teresa Varley:
It’s amazing to see the Rooney family multiple times a day or a week. The fact that Mr. (Dan) Rooney knows my name is incredible, especially being a fan of the game for so long. Just everything, from the medical staff, to the coaches, to everyone involved, this is a championship organization and you feel it immediately when you get here.
The culture of the Steelers and the type of character we have here makes it fuller.
That’s an incredible statement, given that Ryan Harris played in the NFL for four teams over 9 years, and his time in Pittsburgh counts for just over 3% of the games he played.
Steelers Nation thanks Ryan Harris, and wishes his well in his retirement.