I think its addition by subtraction. The thing that the Bengals defense needs this year is a veteran leader to show this group of talents how a champion acts. Say what you will about Pittsburgh (and I do…frequently) there is a heck-of-a mentality in that locker room and James Harrison has had to learn it and live it the hard way.
Remember, Harrison went undrafted in 2002 and was signed post-draft to the Steelers (sound familiar…). Unlike Burfict, Harrison was cut and resigned four times before breaking out in 2005. Despite being 35, Harrison’s determination and experience could well be worth it to a ‘win now’ team like this year’s Bengals. Moreover, he’ll likely sign a one or two-year contract at best, which will free up cap space when it will be needed in the near future.
I have to say, I was very excited about adding Harrison to a defense that already was among the league’s best at rushing the passer, but that feeling quickly changed when I read this tweet:
With Harrison in fold, #Bengals won’t draft LB early and, like Lewis said, Maualuga figures to stay at MIKE. SAM now taken.
— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) April 19, 2013
That felt like a punch to the face and a kick to the groin, all in one painful tweet. While it won’t be a complete bungul to pass on a talented linebacker like Kansas State’s Arthur Brown or Georgia’s Alec Ogletree, but starting the 2013 season with Rey Maualuga as the starting middle linebacker would be unforgivable.
That being said, I think Harrison can easily come in and be a solid run-defender and situational pass-rusher that gets 3-6 sacks, but don’t expect to see the All-Pro who almost single-handedly won the Steelers the Super Bowl in 2009, or even the Harrison that was All-Pro in 2010.