Pro Football Talk reported early Friday night that James Harrison finally signed a deal with the Cincinnati Bengals. The Steelers schedule just got a little more interesting in the ‘face off against former players’ category. Harrison joins a team that is hurting in the linebacker area and was looking to sign either Harrison or Karlos Dansby to help fill the void. The Bengals at one time appeared to go cold on Harrison, but then head coach Marv Lewis stepped up and said that they would sign one or the other.
I guess that was enough to get Harrison’s butt off the couch and get a deal done with the Bengals. Terms of the deal have yet to be released as of late Friday night, but it is rumored to be a two year deal. Better be worth more than $6 million a year for his sake.
Deep down I was a bit disappointed to see Harrison get jettisoned from the roster. I was really hoping that he would just suck it up and take less money from the team. You know the Steelers weren’t going to budge because they pretty much had their backs up against the wall early on in the salary cap puzzle, and had no leverage to deal with Harrison. No matter how good a player is, I’ve always been of the mindset that no player is above the good of the team. Harrison became a casualty of his own pride, and in the end I think he will regret it.
On one hand Harrison could argue that he wasn’t about to take a pay cut for a team that was skeptical at best in becoming a playoff contender in 2013 (and maybe even in 2014). Mike Wallace going to Miami could have been the nail for him. On the other hand Harrison could have been just a casualty of an agent and team that just couldn’t strike a deal before the team said enough was enough and cut ties with Harrison before reason and sensibility could settle in.
Either way you look at it, I think Harrison will regret the move to Cincy despite getting a potential raise (or the same amount he was owed in 2013 by the Steelers). The Steelers may be on the fence as being playoff contenders, but the Bengals are barely better off. Yes, in years past they have been an emerging team. But, since 2008, they’ve been a 4 win team twice and barely squeaked into the playoffs another two times. The last two seasons they have made it into the playoffs but have fallen to the Texans both times in the Wild Card round. The team continually has on and off the field problems and Marvin Lewis has a hard time controlling that squad.
Yeah, I know – sounds kind of familiar doesn’t it?
Well here’s the biggest difference between these two squads that will eat away at Harrison – defense. The Steelers defense is revered in a way that only one other team compares to, and it ain’t the Bungles. The city of Pittsburgh loves its defense. It’s a large part of the pride that makes up Steeler Nation. Physical, mean, and relentless. Every Steeler defensemen is programmed to live by those three facets. Renegade instills an uneasy feeling for offenses – there is a lure that has been constructed that gives them an edge at times on that football field.
‘The Cincy Bengals have an amazing, good, physical, and mean defense,’ said no one ever.
This is something that Harrison will come to fully realize while he is a Bengal. And, as he sits on the bench and watches his playoff hopes become dashed by Big Ginger Dalton and a mediocre offense, that stone face can only stare at the scoreboard and reminisce about the good ol’ days with the Black & Gold. There’s a tradition here in Pittsburgh and history that always makes this team contenders even when it seems like they are out for the count.
Harrison goes from six rings to zero and from Big Ben to Andy Dalton. The defense might be in good hands with Harrison taking the outside, but there are so many other problems he would have been better off staying in the Burgh.
Who Dey??? As Coach Cowher once said – We Dey.
Good luck down the Ohio, Debo. You’re going to need it.