Earlier today, the Pittsburgh Steelers decided to part ways with longtime defensive standout and pass rusher, James Harrison. The Steelers asked Harrison to take a pay cut, and Harrison refused, so the Steelers chose to release him. Now that he's on the market, the notorious Patriots hater now says he'd like the opportunity to play with Tom Brady for the New England Patriots.
Asked by ESPN's Josina Anderson if there's a particular player he'd like to play with, Harrison responded:
Not really. Of course it would be nice to play with Tom Brady. I mean who wouldn't want to. At the same time I'm not opposed to playing with anyone. Tom Brady, Peyton Manning--anybody would want to play with them. Who wouldn't?
Personally, I don't think Harrison's anti-Patriot remarks would come in the way of any potential deal between the two sides. Football is a business, and if the Patriots felt Harrison could help them, they'd likely be perfectly fine leaving the past behind.
That being said, there are a number of reasons Harrison doesn't make sense for the Patriots. First of all, there is the question of how his brash personality would fit in the Patriots locker room. Second, he is currently 34 years old, and at this point, you'll be getting diminishing returns on any deal he'd sign with the team. Third, at just 6'0" and 242 lbs, would he be a fit in the Patriots' scheme, where they value size greatly when it comes to their edge players?
Finally, comes the big sticking point: his contract. Harrison refused to take a 30% discount from the Steelers (that would have given him a chance to earn it all back) before being released. He obviously thinks he can get more on the open market. I'd have a hard time imagining the Patriots handing Harrison a contract anywhere close to the $5 or $6 million annually that he will expect.
When all is said and done, if the Patriots do sign an undersized veteran pass rusher, I think it will be Dwight Freeney as opposed to James Harrison. There are seemingly too many obstacles to getting a deal done. Nonetheless, if Harrison doesn't get the deal he's looking for in the coming weeks and his asking price eventually drops, perhaps there's a chance of a deal between him and the Patriots down the road.