Early Friday morning it came across the wire that the Titans had agreed to terms with two of the top remaining edge rushers, Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo.
The only names left in free agency that I could see helping the Steelers at the position are Greg Hardy and Michael Johnson. However, both have been traditional, hand in the dirt type rushers in the NFL.
Hardy’s legal troubles probably keep him out of Pittsburgh, and Johnson is likely to re-unite with his former defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer in Minnesota.
That leaves one guy on the market that makes any sense… James Harrison.
I like Arthur Moats a lot; he’s a great swing backup and I think he’s even a capable starter in a pinch, but the Steelers can’t go into 2015 counting on him holding down the strong side spot.
James Harrison can still get it done, but not for 16 games. The Steelers should bring him in, draft a rusher early, and let James take it easy all pre-season. In fact, I’d even hold off on signing James until late in the game… He doesn’t need training camp, he just needs fresh legs during the season.
I think it wouldn’t be a desperation play either. James really bloomed late, and isn’t as worn down as the typical 36 year old linebacker. Former Steelers linebacker Kevin Greene had 27 total sacks in his 36 and 37 year old seasons. That’s rare… but not impossible.
James also seems to the task of caring for his body more seriously than any athlete I’ve ever seen; once stating he spend half a million dollars per year on his body.
The Steelers will almost definitely draft a pass rusher early, but it would be a massive mistake counting on that guy to play early, even if it’s a first round pick.
I’m not panicking about the lack of free agency action from the Steelers, because this is obviously what they wanted. That being said, it would be a mistake not to have James now.