One of the most prolific defensive players in Pittsburgh Steelers history is with the franchise no more.
The Steelers announced Saturday that outside linebacker James Harrison was released.
The move came after Pittsburgh’s front office was unable to reach agreement with Harrison on a restructured contract. Harrison was set to earn $6.57 million in 2013 and the Steelers are struggling with salary cap issues.
“James has been an integral part of our success during his years in Pittsburgh and helped us win two Lombardi Trophies during that time,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said in a team-released statement. “We appreciate all of his efforts and wish him the best.”
Harrison expressed similar sentiment on his Twitter account (@jharrison9292) when writing, “It’s been a great run but all good things must come to (an) end. Thank you Steelers Nation I will miss you!”
Signed as an undrafted college free agent in 2002, Harrison blossomed into the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2008 after posting a franchise-record 16 sacks. He was an All-Pro selection in 2007, 2008 and 2010 and a key part of the Steelers teams that won Super Bowls XL and XLIII. Harrison’s 100-yard interception return for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLIII against Arizona remains a Super Bowl record.
Harrison, though, is now 35 years old and is coming off a six-sack season marred by injury. Jason Worilds, who is entering his fourth NFL season with the Steelers, is the frontrunner to replace Harrison in the starting lineup.
Harrison should find an interested suitor on a free-agent market that is thin for 3-4 outside linebackers with good pass-rush skills.