In a move perhaps less surprising than the sun rising in the east, veteran linebacker James Harrison has joined the New England Patriots.
The Steelers’ all-time leader in sacks with 80½, Harrison, 39, was released over the weekend. A surprising move on the surface, especially given the impact he had down the stretch in 2016, Harrison’s departure was less shocking when considering his lack of playing time this year — and he apparently wasn’t happy about the dearth of snaps.
The five-time Pro Bowler and 2008 defensive player of the year played in just five games this season, though it seemed Pittsburgh was preserving him for a role in the playoffs.
Now Harrison’s headed to New England — it’s a one-year deal, according to multiple reports — where he can bolster a linebacking corps that lost Dont’a Hightower and Shea McClellin to injuries and veteran Rob Ninkovich to retirement. The Patriots’ 38 sacks are tied for 12th league-wide, but having an experienced edge rusher for specific situations could obviously help in January.
New England released linebacker Trevor Reilly in a corresponding move.
And with the likelihood the Patriots and Pittsburgh are headed for a showdown in the AFC Championship Game, adding a player with Harrison’s institutional knowledge of the Steelers and added motivation to beat his former team is a patented Bill Belichick move.
SOURCE: USA Today – Nate Davis