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Author Topic: James Harrison--is he affordable?  (Read 1470 times)
Preacherman0
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« on: Mar 03, 2009 at 11:13 »

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Perhaps it would have been better for the Pittsburgh Steelers to reach an agreement with outside linebacker James Harrison before free agency.

The type of money thrown around last weekend likely raised a lot of eyebrows in the respective camps of Harrison and the Pittsburgh Steelers. As of last week, the two sides remained far apart in negotiations.

Former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Bart Scott got a $48 million contract over six years from the New York Jets, an average of $8 million per year. This particular deal could be a major factor in Pittsburgh's ongoing talks with its Pro Bowl linebacker.

Scott's deal likely raised the bar for Harrison, who put up better numbers than his former AFC North counterpart and was the NFL's defensive player of the year in 2008. They both play linebacker in a 3-4 defense, so they're very comparable.

Would the Steelers be willing to go at or above $50 million to keep Harrison for six years? That remains to be seen as Pittsburgh rarely dishes out that kind of money. Perhaps providing a shorter contract (three or four years?) at the same average salary could be a middle ground.

Or would Harrison take a hometown discount to get a deal done and stay with the defending Super Bowl champions long term? That's an interesting option as well. But either way Harrison has to be looking at Scott's deal right now and feeling like he deserves market value.

As both sides continue their back-and-forth, expect Scott's name to come up quite a bit in these negotiations.




I want James Harrison to stay in Pgh. until he retires and I certainly don't want to lose a player of his caliber.  However, can we afford to pay that kind of money?  I personally believe Bart Scott got vastly overpaid, but he's not as good as JH, so why would JH take less?

I also will not fault JH if he decides not to take a "hometown discount."  Isn't he over 30?  He's got to get it while he can, whether it's here or somewhere else.
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Merman1983
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« Reply #1 on: Mar 03, 2009 at 11:50 »

I don't want to give him a big money contract that is longer than 3-4 years. Despite the fact that he has less mileage than your average 31 year old linebacker, I just don't see him performing up to 2007 and 2008 standards when he's 36 or 37 years old. I guess you can make the argument that he was underpaid the past two seasons, but you could also make the argument that he might not be in pro football if it weren't for the Steelers.

I don't want too see him go, but I'd always rather lose a guy 1 year to early than hang onto one 3 years to late, if that makes sense. If worse comes to worse, can't we let him play out next year, then franchise him? I know players hate it but that seems like the safe move to me.
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DCSteelers
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« Reply #2 on: Mar 03, 2009 at 11:54 »

I'm thinking the deal should be 5 years tops.  I'd even say 4 years, but I think there's two big problems to deal with from a money standpoint.

1) The CBA agreement that has states players can't make more than 30% more in 2010 than in 2009... I don't know if this equates to base salary or total compensation.

2) The fact were tight agains the cap in 2009.  We'd probably have to give him a large signing bonus and a small 2009 base salary.  That would have to be worked out to be in accordance to point 1, but since there's no 2010 cap (unless the CBA is reworked for 2010) then who cares.

Due to him being 30/31, that's why I'd say only 4 years, but I think points 1 & 2 would require the compensation to be spread out over time, so probably 5 year minumum.  I'm sure the Gildon enigma is still fresh in their minds.  He's fully worth it if he can perform at a high level for a few more years.  I think the dude is made of rubber.  Remember the times he was twitching around on the ground: only to be back in two plays later?

Also, The Steelers better start reworking contracts (extension or restructure) if they want to get the Harrison, McFadden, Starks, other FA O-linemen, another WR, other 2010 FAs, and Draftees signed up.
« Last Edit: Mar 03, 2009 at 11:57 by DCSteelers » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: Mar 03, 2009 at 11:58 »

Since when is a 6-year deal a 6-year deal?  Or a 5-year a 5-year?  I'm fine with giving him either, with the expectation that we won't pay the last 2-3 years' salary, and any guaranteed money charged to those years is sort of a "going away present" (though James would get the money now, not when it's charged to the cap).

Term?  Salary?  That's all fluff.

Keep the guaranteed reasonable, and I could give a shit about the rest. Hell, sign him to an 8-year deal, if the guaranteed is $16M....
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vinman3
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« Reply #4 on: Mar 03, 2009 at 12:06 »

I am sure the guaranteed money is the sticking point. Seems to be getting higher and higher. It is understandable since NFL players have small career windows in most cases.
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« Reply #5 on: Mar 03, 2009 at 15:52 »

Would the Steelers be willing to go at or above $50 million to keep Harrison for six years? That remains to be seen as Pittsburgh rarely dishes out that kind of money. Perhaps providing a shorter contract (three or four years?) at the same average salary could be a middle ground.

Or would Harrison take a hometown discount to get a deal done and stay with the defending Super Bowl champions long term? That's an interesting option as well. But either way Harrison has to be looking at Scott's deal right now and feeling like he deserves market value.

As both sides continue their back-and-forth, expect Scott's name to come up quite a bit in these negotiations.


Time to play devil's advocate here and rep what will likely be the minority approach to this situation.

I started thinking about this a little more the other day when I saw that report on the 212 that both sides "weren't close" in negotiations.  Really, you figure he's got a couple years left of solid production.  If they're really, really lucky, three.  I don't think the "not much tread on the tires" thing holds water...for any player at any position.  Generally speaking, I think you hit a certain age and you just lose it.  How quickly that happens varies from player to player, but it's pretty much a fact of life.  Yeah, there are exceptions, but they're just that.  There are a lot more examples of guys that fit this mold than the guys that play into their mid 30s at a Pro Bowl level.  There just aren't many Derrick Brooks' out there.

So, the guy's 30 now and he'll be 31 and change by the time the '09 season starts.  If they go the longterm deal route (5YR or so), how much will Pittsburgh be on the hook for in the next two or three years?  If it's anywhere in the Bart Scott range (8 million per, give or take) you figure that he'll "cost" Pittsburgh 20-24 million (assuming some base gets backloaded) for the next three seasons.  Let's assume for S&Gs that he gets cut after '11, so Pittsburgh will still have several million more in dead money for the next year or two after that. 

To me, that's too much coin to lock up in a defensive player at his age so I'm gonna say...don't give him an extension if he's lookin' for that kinda deal.  Let him play out this year and deal with it next year.  If he produces, franchise him in '10.  Depending on how he performs, consider doing it again in '11.  That's only about 10 million out of pocket for the next two years and they wouldn't have to worry about any prorated guaranteed money accelerating.  Zero dead money.  If they choose to do it again in '11, they're in the 18-20 million with no ramifications to the cap for future years.

If he gets pissy and holds out, fine.  Knock yourself out, bro'.  We'll see how long that lasts when the fines start rolling in on your modest salary.  Not to mention that by doing so, you're not going to get to FA any time soon.

I know it would be kind of a dickhead move, but I'm in a IDGAF mood.  Don't get me wrong, I like the guy.  I know, he's a beast; might've single-handedly won 'em 43; DPOY 'n all that, but he's no spring chicken.  Two reasons he's so damn good are his strength and speed.  Either one of those drops off ever so slightly and he's Gildon~ized, just in a smaller frame.  Not to mention that, if I'm Pittsburgh, I don't want to run the risk of not being able to extend a younger stud like Woodley who will be a FA in '10...I think.
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« Reply #6 on: Mar 03, 2009 at 16:07 »

I figured the most generous they'd get would be five years at $40M with $9M guaranteed.  If they get 3 more years for that and then have to cut, fine.  Not that much dead money.  And frankly, Harrison would really be rolling the dice to nix that and play out the old contract. 
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aj_law
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« Reply #7 on: Mar 03, 2009 at 16:14 »

I figured the most generous they'd get would be five years at $40M with $9M guaranteed. 

I would be astounded if they could ink the DPOY to a contract of that length with anything less than 8 digits in guaranteed money.

To further put it in perspective, Porter was 30 (I believe) when he signed his deal with MyHammy and he got something like 20 million guaranteed.

IMO, I think the reason the two parties are so far apart is because they're lookin' for a deal that gives him 16-20 million guaranteed and Pittsburgh 'prolly wants to give him closer to what you suggested.
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« Reply #8 on: Mar 03, 2009 at 16:28 »

I guess he'll have to follow Porter to MyHammy.  You think the Fins wouldn't like a do-over on that?  Porter had a great season last year but the year before?  Not so much.  Lots of coin in that one guy.

But for a 30 yo guy who's coming off a 4 year $5.5M contract, a lump sum of $9M has to look pretty good with the hope to collect more than say, $22M in the first 3 years.  He has to realize those contracts to Haynesworth and that Raiders CB are absurd and the Steelers simply will not go there.

So, what ya wanna do, James?
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« Reply #9 on: Mar 03, 2009 at 19:26 »

Hey we let J-Peezy go and Harrison emerged. If something isn't sone soon, I think the team should rework Woodley's contract. Harrison can be franchised after next year meaning two more years, and who knows he will be in his mid 30's by then. Steelers are smart and wont dish out big bucks.
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