The Patriots just may get a late Christmas present in James Harrison. The former Steelers linebacker is visiting the Patriots on Tuesday after being released on Saturday. Of all the places he could have visited, I’m pretty sure New England fans were pleasantly shocked when he came knocking at our door.
Lacking Depth at Linebacker
It’s no secret the Patriots are a bit thin in the linebacker department. Donta Hightower went down with a season-ending injury in early November, leaving all of us wondering what the defense would look like. But the Pats have this ‘next man up’ mentality, so the wondering was short-lived. Kyle Van Noy has been an unsung hero for the Pats and his absence was felt when he missed the last few games. They’ve got different combinations of guys who continue to make big plays when needed, but it would be nice to have a solid veteran to anchor the defense.
Tossed to the Curb
Harrison’s role with the Steelers was cut dramatically with the transition to more pass-coverage for OLBs Dupree and Watt. He went from playing 587 snaps last season to a miserable 40. It’s as if his 80.5 sacks for them didn’t mean a thing. So did his age also play a role when the Steelers made the decision to let him go? Pittsburgh has gotten flack in the past for their defense looking old and tired in comparison to what I like to call the Polamalu years. I guess they’ve decided it’s time to focus on building a defense that’s a bit younger, faster and stronger. But even though Harrison is 39, he very much seems to be all three of those things. The man can bench a whopping 400+ lbs. and in 2015 showed us he could handle 500 lbs.! Harrison continues to remind us on his Instagram that age is nothing but a number.
The Patriots will no doubt have to face the Steelers again in the playoffs, and having Harrison would be a huge help. The Pats have had some trouble rushing the passer and stopping the run. These are two areas that Harrison performs VERY well in, so having him in our ranks would definitely allow us all to breathe a bit easier. I know the Pats want to feel more solid on the defensive side of the ball, especially with the playoffs fast approaching. Harrison may definitely be the piece of the puzzle we’ve needed all season. Perhaps everyone will get a ring out of the deal.