James Harrison says he wants to return to Steelers

Would the Steelers be interested in bringing back James Harrison? . (USATSI)
Would the Steelers be interested in bringing back James Harrison? (USATSI)

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The Bengals cut James Harrison five days ago, less than a year after he signed with the team. On Monday, the 35-year-old admitted that he'd like to return to Pittsburgh, where he played from 2002-2012, won two Super Bowls (and appeared in another), and earned the 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award.

Appearing on NFL Network with Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor, Harrison was asked where he wants to play next season.

"Pittsburgh," Taylor interjected.

Harrison added: "Everybody knows that."

Thing is, if Harrison had agreed to a pay cut last offseason, he might still be in Pittsburgh. Instead, he refused, the team released him, and he signed for less to play with the Bengals. But would the Steelers have any interest in bringing him back in 2014?

The organization, in general, isn't in the habit of backsliding (although, in 2010, they did bring back former players Larry Foote and Antwaan Randle El), but it's not like they're loaded at outside linebacker, either. 

Pittsburgh has Jason Worilds under contract for at least one more season (the two sides are reportedly working on a long-term deal). And Jarvis Jones, the 2013 first-round pick, will also return as a starter. But after that there is ... Chris Carter, who has done little to distinguish himself during three NFL seasons.LaMarr Woodley is now a member of the Raiders and Harrison, even on the downside of a great NFL career, could provide short-term depth.

He could also be Jones' mentor. The Steelers hired Joey Porter as a defensive assistant earlier this offseason, and the feeling is that Porter will be tasked with getting the most out of Jones, who struggled at times during his rookie season.

Harrison, considered one of the league's haddest workers, could serve in a similar role. He's also intimately familiar with Dick LeBeau's defense, and could prove valuable, even as a part-time player.

The Steelers currently have fewer than $3 million in available salary-cap space, and any decision on Harrison could have to wait until after the draft. The team designated Woodley a June 1 cut, which will free up $8 million at that time.

In the meantime, Pittsburgh will focus re-signing wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, possibly making a run at former Bills defensive end Alex Carrington, and focusing on the NFL Draft.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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