James Harrison and the Patriots appear to be a match. The free-agent former Steelers linebacker is reportedly expected to sign with New England after visiting the team at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro on Tuesday.
ESPN’s Field Yates first confirmed Harrison’s presence at Gillette Stadium visiting the team via Twitter. WBZ-TV’s Steve Burton previously tweeted that he caught wind of a Harrison sighting at Boston’s Logan Airport. Yates later added that Harrison is expected to sign with the Patriots.
The Steelers cut Harrison, 39, on Saturday in order to make room for returning tackle Marcus Gilbert. He spent the last four seasons in Pittsburgh, but saw a steep drop in playing time in 2017. He took the field for just 40 defensive snaps in five games played.
James Harrison: All-Time Steeler
Harrison spent all or part of 14 seasons in two separate stints with the Steelers. He leads the franchise all-time with 80.5 sacks. His peak came with a career-best 16 sacks and AFC Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2008.
He also returned the longest touchdown in Super Bowl history that season, when he took a Kurt Warner interception 100 yards to the house. The Steelers went on to beat the Arizona Cardinals 27-23 in Super Bowl XLIII.
What Can Harrison Bring?
Adding Harrison’s veteran presence to an injury-plagued front-seven could certainly give the Patriots defense a boost. But it’s unclear how much the 39-year-old has left in the tank at this point.
Harrison wouldn’t fill the void at inside linebacker left by injuries to Dont’a Hightower and, most recently, Kyle Van Noy. Hopefully he would make things happen when Matt Patricia calls his number in pass-rushing situations.
At the very least, Belichick could be able to learn more about the Steelers from Harrison’s help. The two teams appear on course for a second straight AFC Championship with the AFC playoff picture rounding into shape. The Patriots can always use all the info they could get. And there may be no better player to ask about their defensive playbook than Harrison.
UPDATE: Harrison confirmed his signing via Instagram on Tuesday, posting a selfie with new teammate Tom Brady with the caption: “Finally… A teammate that’s older than me!”
— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff.
* This story was updated to reflect updated information regarding James Harrison signing with the Patriots after visiting the team.