Steelers OLB James Harrison, a four-time All-Pro and 2008 PFW/PFWA defensive player of the year, has been released, the team confirmed Saturday.
"James has been an integral part of our sucess during his years in Pittsburgh and has helped us win two Lombardi trophies during that time. We appreciate all of his efforts and wish him the best," said GM Kevin Colbert in a statement.
Harrison confirmed the news on his official Twitter account.
"It's been a great run but all good things must come to an end," Harrison tweeted. "Thank you Steelers Nation I will miss you all."
The 35-year old Harrison struggled with injuries in 2012, producing his lowest sack total (six) since 2006. His release creates more than $5 million in cap space for Pittsurgh. The two sides attempted to restructure his deal over the past several weeks, but Harrison refused to help Pittsburgh lower his $10.035 cap figure for next season.
Harrison piled up 64 sacks and 29 forced fumbles during his prolific 10-year run in Pittsburgh, as well as the longest pick-six in Super Bowl history, a memorable 100-yard return of a Kurt Warner pass that helped propel the Steelers to a victory in Super Bowl XLIII.
The way we see it
This move isn't shocking at all — the Steelers' cap situation has necessitated veteran roster purges each of the past two seasons — but it adds to the free-agent list of aging veteran defenders with some pretty impressive credentials: Harrison, Charles Woodson, Ed Reed, Dwight Freeney, John Abraham, Shaun Phillips, among others.
This list brings two things to mind. One: It's a young man's game, and these players' inflated contracts, paired with varying concerns with age/declining skills, made them expendable. Two: It remains to be seen how much each of these guys have left in the tank, but it should create a fascinating storyline for 2013, what with at least a few surefire Hall of Fame players changing scenery.