Former Pittsburgh Steeler and free agent linebacker James Harrison has reached an agreement on a two-year deal with AFC North rival Cincinnati Bengals, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy.
Bengals.com writer Geoff Hobson confirmed the signing by quoting Harrison's agent, Bill Parise, who said, "Any time you can get James Harrison on your team, it's a great day."
Harrison and the Bengals had been talking over the past week in an effort to get a deal done, however it seemed as though the two sides were going to be unable to come to an agreement. Harrison was released by the Steelers in early March when he said he would be unwilling to take a pay cut. Many believe that his motivation to sign with the Bengals is out of revenge.
The Bengals are in need of a SAM linebacker for their base 4-3 defense. They have Vontaze Burfict, who led the team in tackles at WILL, and Rey Maualuga, who was re-signed as a free agent, at MIKE. They lost their former SAM linebacker, Manny Lawson, to the Bills in free agency. Even though Harrison is accustomed to a 3-4 defense, the SAM linebacker in the Bengals defense in 2012 only played a third of the team's snaps.
Harrison has made 617 tackles, 64 sacks, one safety and has intercepted five passes in his nine-year career. The Bengals finished third in sacks in 2012 with 51 and adding Harrison should make their pass rush even more efficient.
Harrison will also get his chance at revenge in front of a national audience as both of the Bengals' games against the Steelers in 2013 are in primetime. Their first matchup is in Week 2 when the Bengals host the Steelers on Monday Night Football, and their second is in Week 15 when the Bengals travel to Pittsburgh for Sunday Night Football.