He was a story throughout three Super Bowl runs because the Steelers had cut him three times.
Make it four.
The Steelers on Saturday released James Harrison, but this time it's because of age (35), a knee that cost him three games last season, and cap savings that amount to $5.105 million rather than youthful inexperience.
Harrison came to the Steelers in 2002 as an undrafted free agent out of Kent State, and even then only as a favor for his agent at the time. Harrison was cut three times over the next two seasons, but finally made it back to stay in 2004.
That's when the Steelers turned their decade around, and Harrison played in three Super Bowls, two as a starting right outside linebacker.
Harrison amassed 64 sacks (fourth team history), 28 forced fumbles (second behind Greg Lloyd's 36), 5 interceptions, 5 consecutive Pro Bowls and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2008.
In 8 playoff games, Harrison had 6.5 sacks and a 100-yard interception return against the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl 43 that is generally regarded as the greatest play in Super Bowl history, if not all of football history.
Harrison was due a $6.57 million salary this coming season, and his release will free up $5.105 million, which the Steelers put to use by offering RFA tenders of $1.32 million each to Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, Steve McLendon and Emmanuel Sanders. The Steelers reportedly did not tender RFAs Stevenson Sylvester and Jeremy Kapinos, who can come back as unrestricted free agents.
The Steelers would receiver a third-round pick for Sanders and a sixth-round pick for Dwyer if they are lost to another team. The Steelers could also keep an RFA by matching an offer, a move for which they would need additional funds.
The Steelers sent the following organizational quotes to members of the media regarding Harrison:
"We have informed James Harrison that we have released him," Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert said. "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."
Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin: "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."