With three weeks remaining before the start of the new league year, it certainly sounds like Pittsburgh Steelers veteran linebacker James Harrison will be part of the 2016 team.
During his talk with the media on Tuesday, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert gave every impression that Harrison will indeed play out the final year of his contract.
“We anticipate he wants to continue playing,” Colbert said, according to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t want to have James here.”
Colbert on James Harrison return: "We anticipate he wants to continue playing. Don't see any reason why we wouldn't want to have James here"
— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) February 16, 2016
If that’s not enough, Harrison’s agent also made it clear Tuesday that his client plans on playing a 13th season.
“He’s under contract for one more year,” said Bill Parise, Harrison’s agent, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. “We plan to honor that.”
Harrison, who will turn 38 in May, is scheduled to earn a $1.25 million base salary in 2016. He recorded 5 sacks last year during the regular season to go along with 40 total tackles, two forced fumbles and an interception. He only missed one game in 2015 due to an injury and still managed to lead his position group in total amount of snaps played.
If indeed Harrison is on the roster in 2016, one would think he would continue to rotate on the right side with former first-round draft pick Jarvis Jones. Additionally, even though all five of the Steelers outside linebackers that finished the 2015 season on the 53-man roster are under contract for 2016, it doesn’t necessarily mean the team won’t select another one in the 2016 NFL Draft.
The Steelers outside linebackers combined to register just 15 sacks in 2015 and that number will need to increase significantly in 2016.