Bud Dupree says that he never saw Harrison at team meetings or in the locker room and wouldn’t visit teammate Ryan Shazier in the hospital. Maurkice Pouncey said the release wasn’t the Steelers’ decision. An anonymous source said Harrison would sit in a recliner and snore during meetings with the linebackers.
The 39-year-old pass rusher stated, “I have to assume when they say you’re going to get 25 percent of the snaps and you get 25 [total], safe to say things didn’t go as planned.”
If Harrison were truly promised 25% of the snaps by the Steelers, he achieved that mark just once- a strong week 6 performance against the Kansas City Chiefs when he played 15 snaps. He played a combined 25 snaps in his four other games for the Steelers in 2017.
“After the first week of the season, I said to them, it’s clear you want to play your younger guys and I understand, so why don’t you release me,” Harrison explained to Dulac. “You go on your way and I’ll go on mine. They said, ‘No, no, no, we got a role for you.’ ”
Pittsburgh turned the defense over to 24-year-old Bud Dupree and 23-year-old T.J. Watt as the starters and 25-year-old Anthony Chickillo as the third man in the rotation. Harrison probably assumed there would be room for four players, but Pittsburgh had other ideas- and kept stringing him along all yer.
Harrison said that the Steelers told him “to be ready” for the week 15 showdown with the Patriots and “that I’d get a lot of [playing] time.” Harrison didn’t play a single snap.
“If I didn’t play in the biggest game of the year, that told me I wouldn’t get any more snaps,” Harrison justified. “So all that lip service you gave me before didn’t matter.”
The Steelers then released Harrison, with head coach Mike Tomlin telling him to “stay in shape in case we come back to you in a month.” Harrison worked out the Patriots after he cleared waivers and decided to make a “business decision” and sign with a team that was actually going to put him on the field.
Harrison told Dulac that he “has been told he will play in Sunday’s regular-season finale against the New York Jets.”
Hopefully the Patriots will keep their promises better than the Steelers did and Harrison will get a crash course in the New England defense for the regular season finale.