After the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 16, veteran outside linebacker James Harrison, who had just registered 1.5 sacks and multiple pressures in the game, dropped hints that he’s considering playing next season. On Monday, Harrison made it clear that playing in 2015 is indeed a possibility because of how he currently feels physically at the conclusion of the season.
“Over the course of those four weeks, just losing weight, getting back into shape, your body adjusts and you get back in the competition of going up against other guys and trying to enforce your will on them,” Harrison said, according to steelers.com. “I guess you could say it’s a little harder to do (again). That’s why I’m where I’m at right now. It’ll be a long process to decide what it is I really want to do.”
As the team heads into the offseason, Jarvis Jones is currently the only outside linebacker on the 53 man roster under contract for 2015. While Harrison might ultimately decide that he wants to play again next season, he might have to wait and see if the organization wants to bring back Jason Worilds, who played in 2014 on a one-year transition tag.
In addition to everything else, Harrison probably won’t be interested in playing for the veteran league minimum like he did this year when he came out of his short retirement in Week 4 after Jones went down with a wrist injury. I know that I certainly wouldn’t criticize him for wanting more money to play in 2015.
Harrison will turn 37 in May and while he did record 5.5 sacks in the 11 games that he played in this season, he did miss two others with a knee injury. With all of the wear and tear that he’s put his body through over the years, it would be foolish to expect him to play in all 16 games next season should he ultimately be resigned.
The good news when it comes to Harrison is that the Steelers have all offseason to decide whether or not to bring him back as it’s virtually a lock that he’s not going to play elsewhere. As long as he stays in shape the front office can wait until training camp and possibly even beyond to make a decision if necessary.
According to Harrison, he doesn’t plan on stopping working out anytime soon.
“I’m going to train because I like to look good,” Harrison said. “That won’t stop.”