James Harrison’s snarling tenacity made the Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker one of the NFL’s most intimidating players for nearly a decade.
Big hits – some legal, some not – also turned the outspoken five-time Pro Bowl player into a focal point for a league-wide crackdown on helmet-to-helmet contact.
Harrison’s outlaw image made him beloved in Pittsburgh but reviled elsewhere. His onerous contract, however, no longer worked for a team with serious salary cap issues. The Steelers released the 2008 defensive player of the year on Saturday when the two sides could not agree on a renegotiated deal.
“It’s been a great run but all good things must come to a end,” Harrison posted on his Twitter account Saturday afternoon. “Thank you Steelers Nation I will miss you all!”
Pittsburgh general manager Kevin Colbert and Harrison’s agent Bill Parise had spent the last few days trying to iron out a new deal but couldn’t reach any common ground. Harrison was entering the final two years of a $51 million extension he signed in 2009 and was scheduled to make $6.57 million in 2013.
Instead, Harrison — who turns 35 in May — will find himself looking for work for the first time since he became a fixture on the right side of Pittsburgh’s 3-4 defense in 2006.
“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,” Colbert said in a statement. “We appreciate all of his efforts and wish him the best.”
BILLS KEEP CB MCKELVIN
Cornerback Leodis McKelvin is staying in Buffalo after the Bills reached an agreement to re-sign their 2008 first-round draft pick.
A person familiar with the talks said McKelvin agreed to a four-year contract worth a little over $20 million. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Bills did not reveal the contract terms in announcing the agreement with McKelvin.
The deal was reached before McKelvin was eligible to become an unrestricted free agent Tuesday.
Atlanta strong safety William Moore agreed to re-sign with the Falcons for five years and $32 million, with $14 million guaranteed. He had 105 tackles and four interceptions last season. … A source said San Diego and kicker Nick Novak agreed in principle to a four-year contract. … Fullback Darrel Young and tight end Logan Paulsen agreed to three-year contracts to remain with the Washington Redskins. Young will receive a $1 million signing bonus. … The New York Jets re-signed linebacker Josh Mauga, leaving them with three more unrestricted free agents. … Arizona released wide receiver Early Doucet and gave a qualifying, second-round tender offer to quarterback Brian Hoyer. … George Saimes, one of the American Football League’s best safeties and a member of the Buffalo Bills’ Wall of Fame, died after a lengthy battle with leukemia. He was 71. In his seven seasons with the Bills, he helped the team win back-to-back AFL championships in 1964-65.