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Pittsburgh Steelers Release LB James Harrison

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Pittsburgh Steelers Release LB James Harrison

In one of this offseason's more shocking moves, the Pittsburgh Steelers have released hard-hitting linebacker James Harrison. The nine-year NFL veteran tweeted the news out Saturday morning:

 

UPDATE: Saturday, March 9 at 3:38 p.m. ET by Tyler Conway

We now have the numbers on just how much the Steelers expected Harrison to shave off his salary. According to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, Pittsburgh offered the veteran linebacker an incentive-laden deal that started out with a 30 percent pay decrease:

Per a league source, the Steelers offered a reduction of roughly 30 percent in Harrison’s base salary of $6.57 million, with an opportunity to earn the money back via incentives.  (The specific terms of the incentives aren’t known.)

---End of update--- 

 

UPDATE: Saturday, March 9 at 12:35 p.m. ET by Patrick Clarke

Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert confirmed the release and wished Harrison well on his way out according to a press release on the team's official website:

We have informed James Harrison that we have released him. James has been an integral part of our success during his years in Pittsburgh and has helped us win two Lombardi trophies during that time. We appreciate all of his efforts and wish him the best.

Not surprisingly, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin had nothing but praise for Harrison following the announcement (via Steelers.com):

James has played a major role in the success of this organization during his time in Pittsburgh. I appreciate everything he has done in my six years as head coach and wish him nothing but the best in the future.

---End of update---

 

The 34-year-old Harrison played in 13 regular-season games for the Steelers in 2012 with a banged-up knee, recording 70 combined tackles, six sacks and two forced fumbles. His six sacks were the fewest he's recorded in a season since 2006.

Harrison has made a name for himself over the years thanks to his bruising highlight-reel hits and fiery play. He's been fined by the NFL countless times for his various hits and has had his fair share of run-ins with league commissioner Roger Goodell. 

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The 6'0", 240-pound linebacker peaked in 2008, the year he helped lead the Steelers to their most recent Super Bowl title. He recorded a career-best 101 combined tackles and 16 sacks during that season to go along with seven forced fumbles and an interception.

Harrison, who played his college football at Kent State, went undrafted in 2002 and has played his entire NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Baltimore Ravens signed him briefly a decade ago, but cut him before he ever saw the field.

The lack of belief in Harrison during the early stages of his professional career no doubt motivated him to become a five-time Pro Bowler from 2007 to 2011. 

A two-time Super Bowl champion, Harrison has 64 sacks, 29 forced fumbles and five interceptions for his career.

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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