Two Steelers say James Harrison wanted release, did he orchestrate landing with Pats?

Shutdown Corner

While the Pittsburgh Steelers have been criticized for cutting James Harrison, here’s a new twist: Two Steelers players said Harrison forced his way out.

Center Maurkice Pouncey and linebacker Bud Dupree both said Wednesday that the Steelers didn’t want to cut Harrison, it was the other way around. And if we assume that to be true, you have to wonder if Harrison planned all along to land with the New England Patriots. He signed with the Pats shortly after clearing waivers.

“He chose to leave. He chose to leave, and he did,” Dupree said, according to Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

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“He wanted out. It wasn’t like the team said, ‘Oh, we’re going to let go of James Harrison.’ James Harrison wanted out,” Pouncey told the Pittsburgh media. “It’s funny to read the stories. This is something he wanted to do. It wasn’t like they got together and said, ‘We’re going to go cut James.’ No, that’s not what happened. And he needs to come out and admit that.”

Pouncey wouldn’t expand on how he knew Harrison wanted to be cut, but said, “It’s coming from what I know.” He didn’t take too kindly to Harrison’s maneuvers.

“He erased himself,” Pouncey said, according to the Post-Gazette. “He erased his own legacy here. Let’s be serious. … I would think so, as a fan. [It’s] crazy. It blows my mind.”

Dupree put it his feelings on Twitter.

Steelers safety Mike Mitchell seemed to also say that Harrison wanted out.

“I’m not going to assassinate his character, but I wouldn’t have done it for $59,000,” Mitchell said, according to the Post-Gazette, and referred to how much Harrison will get paid by the Patriots.

It’s not like Harrison had ultimate say in landing with the Patriots. Someone else could have claimed him on wiavers. The Patriots still had to offer him a contract. But it’s hard to believe, based on how quickly it all unfolded and the Steelers’ claims that he wanted to be cut, that Harrison didn’t at least want to land with the Patriots. It’s impossible to view it any other way. Maybe Harrison was upset he was barely playing — he had appeared in five games and only 40 snaps all season — and maybe he wanted revenge. Who knows. There’s a good chance Harrison will play his former team in the AFC championship game.

The whole ordeal has brought about a ton of theories that the Patriots just signed Harrison for the intel on the Steelers. Perhaps Harrison can offer a few things the Patriots didn’t see on film before they played Pittsburgh in Week 15, but Pouncey didn’t think there was much to it.

“What’s he gonna tell them? The line slides left, the line slides right?” Pouncey said. “I mean, that’s common sense.”

New England Patriots linebacker James Harrison runs through a drill during practice Wednesday. (AP)
New England Patriots linebacker James Harrison runs through a drill during practice Wednesday. (AP)

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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