James Harrison must ruminate his options.
Harrison was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year for 2008. Can you name the last time a Steeler was honored so? Neither can I. It’s an achievement punctuated by his play in the Steelers’ Superbowl XLIII victory. His record setting touchdown return will be remembered for decades. His play has far exceeded the value of his contract. Unfortunately, new Steelers’ contracts do not reward a player for past accomplishments, only for potential and the level of play expected going forward.
Discounting a holdout, there are two choices. First, stay with the Steelers for a moderate extension at reasonable money. They will surely offer him a better deal than his last contract (four years for $5.5M including a $1.375M signing bonus), but it won’t be in the same area code as Albert Haynesworth’s $100M contract with the Redskins. I’d guess the guaranteed portion of his new offer exceeds the total value of the previous contract but it probably doesn’t double it. And considering his age (30) the offer will likely be in the 5 year range. More than five years at $40M with $9M guaranteed would be surprising.
On the other hand, he could choose to play the final year of his current contract and enter free agency next off season. He’ll be a year older but with the Daniel Snyders of the world, there’s a chance he could get a bank busting $15M guaranteed on a $50M deal. There’s also a chance he blows out an ACL and loses a season. It’s a gamble, the possibilities must be weighed.
I’d love to watch Harrison in black and gold for the next several seasons. One thing is certain: it’s his choice.