Steelers Reportedly Considering Releasing James Harrison

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Steelers Reportedly Considering Releasing James Harrison
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The Pittsburgh Steelers are reportedly looking into releasing longtime linebacker James Harrison, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

UPDATE: Friday, Mar. 8, at 3:00 p.m. ET by Ethan Grant

According to Mike Garafolo of USA Today, the Steelers and Harrison haven't been able to come to any sort of middle ground on his current contract, and what a reduction in salary might look like.

Per the piece, it is looking more and more likely that Harrison will hit the chopping block before free agency begins:

The sides have been speaking regularly and talked again on Friday, according to a person informed of the progress of negotiations. The person, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because the talks weren't to be discussed publicly, said there's been no progress in getting Harrison to agree to chop any portion of the $6.57 million base salary he's owed this season.

---End of update---

Harrison's current contract runs through the 2014-2015 season. He is scheduled to make $6.57 million in 2013 and $7.58 million in 2014. According to Bouchette, the Steelers want the 34-year-old to take a pay cut, but an agreement on a restructured contract hasn't been made yet.

Harrison, a five-time Pro Bowler and the 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, missed the first three games of last season after undergoing knee surgery. But he rebounded down the stretch, finishing with six sacks and two forced fumbles. He ended his season on a strong note, posting 11 tackles and one sack against the Cleveland Browns.

The nine-year veteran has racked up 60 combined sacks since taking over at right outside linebacker for Joey Porter in 2007. The brash, physical Kent State product was signed by the Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 2002 and spent two years on the practice squad before finally making the roster.

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Because of Harrison's tweener size, he was dismissed in 2002 by most of the league. He ended up finding a home in Pittsburgh and absolutely flourished, becoming a pivotal player for the Steelers as they won Super Bowls XL and XLIII. 

According to Bouchette, Harrison's agent, Bill Parise, said, "We absolutely want to do this, we absolutely want to be in Pittsburgh." 

It appears as if both sides are trying hard to get a deal finalized, but that's easier said than done. Despite their intentions to stay together, there does appear to be a chance that Harrison is let go before free agency begins on March 12.

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