James Harrison spent 14 seasons with the Steelers, where he's the all-time franchise sack leader (80.5), the 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and a two-time Super Bowl winner. But after appearing in just five games, Pittsburgh released the 39-year-old before Week 16 of the 2017 season.
Harrison promptly signed with the Patriots, where he logged two sacks in the regular-season finale, and played in the team's four postseason games, including Super Bowl LII.
"I have no problem with the Steelers family,'' said Harrison. "I have no problem with the Rooneys. They made a business decision that was best for their organization. I made a business decision that was best for me and family at the time. We went our separate ways. Fans get mad because they're stuck with a team, one team, that's their team. At the end of the day, it's a business. Yes, you have loyalties to teams, but when it comes down to it, it's a job, and when your job fires you, you need to find another job."
Shortly after he was cut by the Steelers, Harrison told the Post-Gazette that heon three separate occasions after he realized he wasn't going to get the playing time he had been promised.
"After the first week of the season (when he played just four snaps), I said to them, it's clear you want to play your younger guys and I understand, so why don't you release me," Harrison said. "You go on your way and I'll go on mine. They said, 'No, no, no, we got a role for you.'"
That role never materialized and 14 weeks later, Harrison and the Steelers finally parted ways.
Weeks before he was released, Harrison told NBC Sports' Michelle Tafoya that he wouldn't have signed a two-year deal with the team in the offseason if he knew he wasn't going to see the field. Days after Harrison's comments, coach Mike Tomlin explained to Steelers.com writer Bob Labriola why Harrison been relegated to the bench.
"[The outside linebacker] evolved within the last decade, since I've been here," Tomlin said. "Outside linebacker was a rush-man's position in the early part of my tenure. Guys like LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison were defensive-end-like. They rushed the vast majority of the time. With the evolution of spread football, read-option football, RPOs as the college guys call it -- run-pass options -- and all the empty backfield stuff, it has become a hybrid position, where they're asked to do a lot of things: rush, drop in zone, play man-to-man."
Harrison told Bouchette that Bill Belichick spoke to the linebacker about returning in 2018 but Harrison "knew I wasn't going to be at home, so that's really what it came down to."