James Harrison is joining the Bengals (USA Today Sports Images)
The Cincinnati Bengals have agreed to terms with free agent linebacker James Harrison, Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com reports.
According to Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Harrison will sign a two-year contract.
"Any time you can get James Harrison on your team, it's a great day," Bill Parise, Harrison's agent, told Hobson.
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The Bengals were looking at adding a veteran linebacker after losing Manny Lawson to free agency this offseason. Harrison had an April 11 visit with the Bengals, who were also interested in former Miami Dolphins linebacker Karlos Dansby. Cincinnati appears set with Rey Maualuga at strong-side linebacker and Vontaze Burfict at middle linebacker, which means Harrison would play on the weak side and be used in pass-rushing situations.
Harrison was released by the Pittsburgh Steelers on March 9. Harrison had been scheduled to earn $6.57 million in base salary and had a cap number of $10.035 million for the 2013 season. While Harrison's release by the Steelers was due, in part, to his large salary and cap number, the 34-year-old produced just six sacks in 2012 and Pittsburgh was ready to move on with younger options at outside linebacker.
Harrison won't have to wait long to face his former team. The Bengals will host the Steelers on Monday Night Football on Sept. 16. The second meeting between the two AFC North rivals is currently scheduled to be the Sunday Night Football game on Dec. 15.
Originally signed by the Steelers as an undrafted free agent out of Kent State in 2002, Harrison did not become a regular starter on defense until 2007. In 131 games with the Steelers, Harrison had 64 sacks, 29 forced fumbles and five interceptions and was named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 2008. In eight playoff games, Harrison had 6.5 sacks and an interception, which he returned 100 yards for a touchdown to close out the first half of the Steelers' 27-23 win over the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.
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