Thursday, March 14, 2013
Are Ravens interested in James Harrison?
By Jamison Hensley
There's no question that linebacker James Harrison is interested in playing for the Baltimore Ravens. He'd get to stay in the familiar surroundings of the AFC North and get to face the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team that released him after he refused to take a pay cut, two times this season.
But are the Ravens interested in the soon-to-be 35-year-old pass-rusher? Harrison's agent and Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome talked this week and plan to do so again Saturday.
"Their timeline is a little slower at this point, but Ozzie's going to have to sign at least a couple of linebackers," Bill Parise, Harrison's agent, told The Baltimore Sun. "I know where we stand. He's made it clear that there's interest from the Ravens, and we have an interest. We would like that very much for James to wind up a with great organization like the Ravens. So, we'll wait and see where it goes."
Going against Harrison's signing is the fact that the Ravens have bigger priorities on defense. Baltimore needs a safety and inside linebacker more than an outside linebacker. The Ravens did lose Paul Kruger to Cleveland in free agency, but they probably want to expand Courtney Upshaw's role in the 2013 season.
What helps Harrison's case is the fact that Newsome believes getting to the quarterback is the key to defense, and he'll consider any opportunity to improve the pass rush. Newsome, though, would only sign Harrison at the right price -- and that's probably nowhere near the $6.57 million salary Harrison was scheduled to make this season in Pittsburgh.
Parise said he has spoken to six other teams regarding Harrison. At this point, no deal is imminent with any of them. Teams are becoming more wary of spending on free agents older than age 30. Harrison will likely have to wait a little while longer to see whether the Ravens, or any other team, are interested enough to offer him a contract.