December 23, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison (92) on the field against the Cincinnati Bengals during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Cincinnati Bengals won 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
UPDATE 3:15 PM
This is interesting to hear, as it may signal that one or both sides want to work out a deal sooner rather than later. Perhaps Harrison is tired of the free agent visits and wants to settle for whatever deal he can get while remaining in the AFC North.
There’s also this update on free agent tight end Alex Smith:
The Cincinnati Bengals are making sure they get one last look at who’s left on the free agent market before the NFL Draft kicks-off in 14 days, and the latest visitor is a former AFC North foe in outside linebacker James Harrison, according to USA Today’s Mike Garafolo and the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Joe Reedy:
"The outspoken linebacker is visiting the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday, according to a person informed of the meeting between the sides. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because the team doesn’t comment on free-agent visits. Harrison was to meet with the Baltimore Ravens recently and was in Baltimore but did not meet with the team because the Ravens reached an agreement with Elvis Dumervil instead. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported late last month the Steelers told Harrison they’re not interested in having him back. The team cut him after attempts to work out a pay cut from his scheduled salary of $6.57 million failed."
Harrison is certainly hell-bent on staying the AFC North, as it’s where he’s spent his 10-year NFL career. His 64 career sacks is the 14th-most by any active players, and after notching 6 sacks in 13 games in 2012, he clearly still has something left in the tank from a pass-rushing standpoint. Outside of that though, he doesn’t offer anything in pass-coverage, and is more suited for a 3-4 defense, which is all he’s ever played in since joining the Steelers in 2004.
Bengals Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer could certainly find a way for him to contribute while masking his weaknesses in the same way he did with Manny Lawson the past two seasons, and because Harrison is a much better pass-rusher, it would make a defense that finished with a franchise record 51 sacks in 2012, they could be even better in 2013 if Harrison is on the roster.