James Harrison is reportedly close to finalizing a contract with the Cincinnati Bengals. Yes, after years of tormenting Bengals quarterbacks, the long-time Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker could be calling Cincinnati home.
Talk about sleeping with the enemy.
The 34-year-old Harrison was released by the Steelers last month after refusing to restructure his contract. After being cut, the five-time Pro Bowler claimed he was interested in returning the the Steel City, but the team didn’t share his enthusiasm for a reunion.
The Bengals are in desperate need of an outside linebacker after 2012 starter Manny Lawson left town to sign with the Buffalo Bills in mid-March. Harrison would be able to step in and play right away, though his best years may be behind him.
Harrison was the 2008 AP Defensive Player of the Year after racking up 16 sacks and leading the Steelers to a win in Super Bowl XLIII. He hasn’t been able to duplicate those numbers since, but has 64 career sacks to go along with 29 forced fumbles and five interceptions.
The Kent State product has been a lightning rod for controversy over the past few seasons, and a combination of suspensions and injuries has forced him to miss eight games over the past two seasons. In that time he has just 15 sacks.
Still, Harrison is a proven commodity in the NFL and if the Bengals can get him cheap on a “prove your worth” kind of contract, he could end up being a steal.
All signs point to a deal getting done soon, so expect to see Harrison in black and orange next season.