The hoodie has struck once more. Bill Belichick was there to pick the bones of the Pittsburgh Steelers today when he signed former All-Pro Linebacker and 15-year veteran James Harrison for a league-minimum deal. Harrison was released Saturday by the Steelers just two weeks before what was likely his final playoff run, but the veteran was barely active this season only playing a handful of snaps and was thus deemed expendable. The New England Patriots were quick to scoop up the vet once he cleared waivers adding a welcomed veteran presence on the edge to a depleted front seven in Foxboro.
Harrison can help rush off the edge, which outside of Trey Flowers, New England really doesn’t have an explosive pass rusher who can flip the switch and run over a left tackle to take down the QB on a crucial down. After all, even at 39-years-old, Harrison flashed in his brief work this year beating Eric Fisher late in a big-game against the Chiefs to take down Alex Smith. The Patriots needed more depth at the edge in the run game, battling with tight ends and tackles, an area where they have really struggled this year at times. In comes Bill Belichick, the best man in football at identifying the strengths rather than weaknesses of his players and putting them in the best position to succeed on game day. He coaches them on what he knows they can do, not what they can’t. Harrison has the ability to make a major impact situationally in the playoffs, and Coach Belichick will put him in the perfect position to make that impact.
How many times just recently have we seen Bill Belichick give a recently released veteran a chance to come in and prove themselves while chase a championship at the same time? He loves players with a chip on their shoulder, I mean Tom Brady still carries the massive chip on his shoulder of being the 199th pick in the draft and he’s won five Super Bowls since. Belichick brought in Michael Floyd last year after he was released in Arizona following a DUI. The receiver came in and produced in his role, threw a few big blocks and make some catches down the stretch that led him to signing with Minnesota for this season. Belichick brought in WR Kenny Britt who was cut by the Cleveland Browns after signing a big deal last summer and was thrown under the bus by the team’s new general manager. Belichick quickly signed him once he cleared waivers adding a veteran body to a position of need and a motivated one at that who has made a few receptions in limited spot duty through his first two games with the team.
James Harrison will be put in a position to best utilize his abilities and will have the knowledge and experience to make impact plays on the defensive side of the ball in January. Belichick could use this week as a tune-up for Harrison against the New York Jets to play a large percentage of the snaps and get back in the flow of playing before the first-round bye. There’s no doubt Harrison was motivated to come back and stick it to the Steelers after being released so late in the campaign, but the fact he came to their arch-enemy will haunt Mike Tomlin at night. Belichick is a real estate mogul when it comes to Tomlin, and he just purchased more high-priced property in the Pittsburgh Coach’s head when he signed a motivated, ousted Harrison just a few days after he was released.
Harrison was elated to land in New England as just hours after his announced signing he took to instagram to post a selfie with the Quarterback he spent a decade-plus of terrorizing with the caption, “Finally… a teammate that’s older than me. @TomBrady @GilletteStadium.”
James Harrison will have the chance to make a welcomed impact on the Patriots injury-depleted defense, especially coming off the edge. Signing a motivated veteran is just Bill Belichick doing his thing better than the entire league, but this time he gets the added bonus of playing mind games with the Steelers coach and quarterback, both of whom he already owns and dominates on every occasion.
Follow Frank Pimentel on Twitter: @FrankBostonTank