Jan 8 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison (92) before the start of the 2011 AFC Wildcard Playoff game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Bengals Sign Former Pittsburgh Steelers Linebacker James Harrison




The Cincinnati Bengals have agreed to a deal with longtime AFC North nemesis James Harrison. The outside linebacker has played his entire 10-year NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and his 64 sacks are the 14th-most by any active player.

Despite missing the first three games of the 2012 season, Harrison finished tied for the team lead with six sacks and had two forced fumbles.

Pro Football Focus ranked Harrison as the 10th-best outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme last season in a whopping 837 snaps. They also ranked Harrison third overall against the run, and his 40 stops were the fourth-most by and 3-4 outside linebacker.

For comparisons sake, Manny Lawson, the Bengals starting SAM the past two seasons, had a -5.9 grade overall and a -5.8 grade in run defense in just 362 snaps.

So even though Lawson was used as a situational linebacker, he was still a liability in limited snaps. If Harrison can even play close to the level he was playing at last season, he’ll be a significant upgrade at the SAM spot, and may be enough to finally help the Bengals defense become elite.


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Tags: Cincinnati Bengals Free Agency James Harrison Pittsburgh Steelers

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