The Pittsburgh Steelers enter the offseason with a long list of players who will be free agents come March and as usual, the organization will make it priority to re-sign those of them that that feel can continue to be big contributors. Of the players on that list that could ultimately wind up being re-signed are linebacker James Harrison and running back DeAngelo Williams.
After Sunday’s loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game, Harrison gave every indication that he would like to return in 2017 as he said he’s “not done.” He also posted on Tuesday on his social media accounts that he’s not ready to call it career.
On Tuesday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked if he’d like to have Harrison back in 2017.
“I’m open to that,” Tomlin said. “Man, I think we’re all not surprised at all by what he was able to do because he is James. But we were pleased with what he was able to do and provide us and we’re open to that discussion for sure.”
Harrison, who became the full-time starter again at right outside linebacker after the Steelers Week 10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, led the team during the regular season in sacks with five. As usual, he continued to be a great asset against the run as well.
The Steelers would be wise to re-sign Harrison during the offseason as currently the team only has two outside linebackers under contract for the 2017 season with one them being starter Bud Dupree. Regardless of what ultimately happens with Harrison, the Steelers are expected to address the position early in the 2017 NFL Draft.
As for Williams, who like Harrison will be an unrestricted free agent come March, Tomlin was asked Tuesday if the veteran running back has given any indication that he would like to be back in 2017 as well.
“I have an indication of that, but again, none of those decisions occur in a vacuum,” Tomlin said of Williams. “Free agency is what it is. It’s free for him, it’s free for us. We’ll assess it and see if the two sides can come together and do business again. I know that is was a pleasant experience, the two years that he’s been a part of this.”
Tomlin was immediately asked if Williams did infeed tell him that he’d like to continue playing in 2017.
“He’ll be better to speak for himself in that regard than myself,” Tomlin said.
Williams, who missed several games during the 2016 regular season with a knee injury, rushed for 343 yards and 4 touchdowns on 98 carries in addition to catching 18 passes for 118 yards and 2 touchdowns.
If Williams wants to return to the Steelers in 2017, one would think that the two sides might be able to come to terms at some point during the offseason. Currently, the only running backs that are under contract with the Steelers for the 2017 season are the four that signed futures deals on Monday and that includes Karlos Williams, the younger brother of linebacker Vince Williams.
The Steelers are expected to place the franchise tag on running back Le’Veon Bell in the coming months in addition to signing fellow free agent running back Fitzgerald Toussaint to a one-year exclusive rights tender.