The move is not a surprise, given he was set to count about $6 million against the cap, and has age and injury concerns at this stage of his career.
Harrison has suffered from back and other issues and missed significant time, and he seemed to confirm the move.
It's been a great run but all good things must come to a end. Thank you Steelers Nation I will miss you all!— James Harrison (@jharrison9292) March 9, 2013
Harrison was not willing to take a major cut to remain with the team and the Steelers internally have been bracing for this for quite some time, with the money they are paying fellow linebackers LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons now quite steep and them retooling an aging defense.
Pittsburgh is losing free-agent receiver Mike Wallace and running back Rashard Mendenhall is likely departing, but roster turnover is nothing new for the perennial contenders. The Steelers front office has been shrewd over the years in knowing when to let its own players leave and not overpaying aging players.