For those who haven't been around James Harrison, just know that he's a very serious person. There are no frills with the Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Bowl linebacker. Harrison says what he means and he means what he says.
That is why when Harrison states he's mulling retirement following a $75,000 fine for his recent hit on Cleveland Browns receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, it should not be easily dismissed. Harrison, obviously confused and distraught by the fine and where the NFL is heading, was excused from practice Wednesday as the Steelers prepare for the Miami Dolphins.
But would the former defensive player of the year really walk away from the game? There are several reasons why we believe Harrison will return to Pittsburgh.
For starters, Harrison is in the second year of a six-year, $51.75 million contract. So he would leave a ton of money on the table by quitting so early into his new deal. Secondly, the Steelers (4-1) have great chemistry and are a close-knit group competing for a Super Bowl title. Once Harrison has time to vent and clear his head, there's a good chance teammates would get into Harrison's ear and convince him not to walk out on his team.
Although it's too early to speculate, the Steelers would have options in the event Harrison didn't return.
The most likely option would be to move the dynamic and athletic Lawrence Timmons into Harrison's spot at outside linebacker and start veteran Larry Foote inside. That would put Pittsburgh's best four remaining linebackers on the field. Another option would be to take a look at rookie outside linebacker Jason Worilds, who has played mostly special teams this year.
Harrison is flustered and angry right now. But we believe eventually the linebacker will go back to what he does best: playing football.