The Pittsburgh Steelers have informed outside linebacker James Harrison that he is not included in their future plans, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Harrison's agent, Bill Parise, said that Harrison has "a couple things going on," but as of this past weekend, the Steelers are not included.
As noted by Bouchette, this is likely a decision that the Steelers made some time ago, when the team and Harrison couldn't get together on a proper pay cut for the 2013 season, leading to Harrison's release. It was recently reported that the Steelers could be interested in Dwight Freeney, who is also getting up there in years, but may be a more productive pass rusher at this point in their careers.
Pittsburgh's pass rush has been in rapid decline over the past few seasons. Since getting 16 sacks in 2008, Harrison hasn't had more than 10.5 in a single season. In 2011, he had nine sacks and last year, in 13 games, he effectively brought the quarterback down just six times.
Of course, he did have 49 solo tackles with 21 assists and a couple of forced fumbles to his name, as well. Harrison still has something to offer a team out there, but the Steelers likely want to get younger at the position. Bringing in a guy like Freeney would likely coincide with a part-time youth movement, with Freeney primarily playing on nickel downs where he can rush the passer with his hands in the dirt.
That would make room for Jason Worilds to be the primary starter. It was recently said that Worilds would get the shot at proving himself a capable starter, by none other than head coach Mike Tomlin at the NFL's annual meetings in Phoenix. Worilds is entering his fourth year in the NFL and is 25 years old. He had 22 tackles and five sacks in a limited role in 2012.
The Baltimore Ravens were one team interested in Harrison's services, but they signed Elvis Dumervil, the top pass rusher on the market, to a five-year contract recently. It's unclear if there are other teams interested in signing Harrison at this time.