Steelers Free Agency 2013: will James Harrison back?

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There are lots of questions to answer for the Steelers this offseason. Another transition period is underway, and many veteran players are on the block. Outside linebacker James Harrison is one of them.

The Steelers haven't walked away from a former Defensive Player of the Year since Rod Woodson left in 1996.

James Harrison, the league's Defensive Player of the Year in 2008, looks to be on the brink of changing that.

With a cap number over $10 million - or roughly the same amount as the franchise tag would cost on wide receiver Mike Wallace - Harrison said recently he'd be willing to restructure his deal in order to stay with the Steelers. He'll certainly have to, because there's as much a chance the Steelers will keep Harrison at his salary as they will in giving Wallace the franchise tag.

It's safe to say neither will happen. Stranger things have happened, but it just doesn't make financial sense.

It doesn't make much sense to enter the 2013 season without Harrison, one of the best run defenders from the outside linebacker position in the NFL. Financially, though, it won't work.

How much will he be willing to cut, though? And how will that work in with the transition period the team is forced to undergo due to age and cash constraints? The question is really how much the Steelers will spend to keep Harrison around, because with a thin group behind Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, they can't afford to let him go any more than they can afford to keep him at a $10 million cap charge.

This is the first in a series discussing the options the Steelers have in free agency this offseason.


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