Patriots Sign James Harrison to One-Year Deal

James Harrison Tom Brady IG
New teammates Tom Brady (left) and James Harrison (right). (Instagram/@jhharrison92)

Cameron Merritt

After 14 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the franchise’s all-time sack leader is now a member of their biggest conference title rival.

The New England Patriots signed the veteran linebacker and defensive end Tuesday to a one-year deal, as first reported by ESPN’s Field Yates.

“Finally… A teammate that’s older than me,” the 39 year old said in an Instagram post of him and his new quarterback, 40 year old Tom Brady.

The Steelers cut Harrison Saturday in a move that, despite appearing in only five games this season, came as a surprise to many, including quaterback Ben Roethlisberger, who told 93.7 The Fan’s Cook and Poni he was “shocked.”

“He’s one of the best that I’ve ever played with. Great teammate, and so it was shocking. I was a little surprised,” Roethlisberger said.

The Patriots signing of Harrison, however, comes as less of a surprise. The AFC leaders head into their final regular season game against the New York Jets Sunday looking to secure home field advantage in the playoffs, over the Steelers nonetheless.

The Patriots are in need of help at the defensive end and linebacker positions after losing several key players to injury, and to add a veteran presence and five time Pro Bowler who also happens to know the ins-and-outs of the playbook of a team that stands between them and a trip to Minneapolis in February is only an added bonus.

For Harrison, New England makes the most sense as a destination. There is a role for him on another Super Bowl contender, as well as a chance to prove his value as a player, especially to his former team.

Harrison spent 14 of his 15 NFL seasons in Pittsburgh, with the exception being a year with their AFC North rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals, in 2013.

He returned to Pittsburgh after the year to retire as a Steeler, but decided to come out of retirement early in the 2014 season, combining for 141 tackles and 16.5 of his franchise-record 80.5 sacks in his final four seasons with the team.

Through five games this season, Harrison has three tackles and a sack, all of which came during the Steelers’ Week 6 match up against the Kansas City Chiefs in October.

Harrison can make his Patriots debut Sunday against the Jets, and a win, Steelers loss, or ties by both teams will give the defending champions the first seed in the AFC playoffs and home field advantage. The Steelers need the Patriots to lose as well as beat the 0-15 Cleveland Browns in order to take the top seed for themselves.

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