Bengals sign LB Harrison

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


Longtime rival James Harrison officially signed a two-year deal with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Harrison turns 35 in May and was released by the Pittsburgh Steelers after nine seasons and five Pro Bowl bids. He'll be used as a strong-side linebacker in defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer's 4-3 defense after playing exclusively as a rush linebacker in the 3-4 scheme used by the Steelers.
Negotiations were slow-moving until last week, but the Bengals made another push to add a veteran.
"There was no significance in staying in the AFC North," said Harrison. "My thing was I wanted to play with a team that was competitive and had a chance of winning a Super Bowl. I felt like [defending champion] Baltimore and Cincinnati were those teams.
"The second thing I wanted was to stay close to home. I currently live in Pittsburgh and that's where I'm going to reside. I really didn't want to have to go farther away than I had to."
Harrison and former Miami Dolphins linebacker Karlos Dansby came to Cincinnati on April 11 to visit with Bengals officials. Coach Marvin Lewis said Friday that the club planned to sign one or the other, but not both.
The team is trying to fill a linebacker spot left by Manny Lawson, a starter last year who signed with the Buffalo Bills during the offseason.
Harrison refused to take a pay cut requested by the Steelers and was waived. He is due to make $6.57 million in 2013. The Steelers were not interested in re-signing him, even at a reduced rate.
After the Steelers and Harrison parted ways, the Baltimore Ravens showed interest in Harrison before signing free-agent Elvis Dumervil. But other than the Bengals, few teams have reached out to Harrison.
Last season, Harrison missed the first three games with a knee injury but came on strong when he returned, tying for the team lead in sacks with six (his fewest since 2007) and leading the NFL's No. 1 ranked defense. The 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year has 64 career sacks.
The Bengals and Steelers will meet in two prime-time TV games in 2013: Monday night, Sept. 16 and Sunday night, December 15.

What to Read Next