NFL news roundup: James Harrison could return to Steelers, Vikings closing in on Vladimir Ducasse

Talk of a potential reunion between Harrison and Pittsburgh is heating up, while Minnesota is close to signing a reserve offensive lineman.

Last week, veteran linebacker James Harrison expressed interest in returning to the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he won two Super Bowl rings and the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year. While there's been no word of mutual interest from the Steelers, Joe Starky has argued in a recent piece for the Tribune-Review that the team should consider bringing him back.

Harrison was recently cut by the Cincinnati Bengals after just a year on the team, and at 35, he's not the defensive playmaker he once was. But he still managed to have a solid year in Cincy and could provide veteran leadership and quality depth to a defense in need of both.

Starky writes:

They could use a spare pass rusher. If Harrison shows up with nothing left, then by all means cut him (it wouldn't be the first time) at minimal cost. No harm, no foul.

Best case, Harrison becomes the defensive version of a late-stage Jerome Bettis, a Steelers legend willing to play a small but critical role in his final act. For Bettis, it was as a short-yardage and late-game battering ram. For Harrison, it could be as a situational (and late-game) pass rusher and maybe a short-yardage defender.

Even at his advancing age, Harrison came in as the ninth-best 4-3 outside linebacker by Pro Football Focus last season and was No. 4 among that group in run defense.

Ravens expected to trade for Bucs center Jeremy Zuttah

The Ravens are working on a trade with the Buccaneers that would bring center Jeremy Zuttah to Baltimore, according to Aaron Wilson of the The Baltimore Sun. The deal has not been finalized yet.

UPDATE 3:57 p.m. ET: The Ravens have announced they have traded an undisclosed 2015 draft pick for Zuttah, Wilson reports.

Zuttah became expendable when the Bucs signed former Packer Evan Dietrich-Smith. There had been rumblings that they could release Zuttah, who carries a $4.5 million salary cap hit this year, so receiving compensation through a trade would be a win for Tampa Bay.

Zuttah's exit still poses some depth issues for Tampa Bay. While postulating on the possible release, Bucs Nation explored those issues.

A Zuttah release would also mean they'd have to sign a new guard (or center), and finding one for a good price is likely to be problematic. In fact, the only remotely appealing interior lineman still available is Brian De La Puente. I'm not convinced the former Saint would even represent an upgrade over Zuttah, and with other teams looking to add linemen as well, he's unlikely to come at a much lower price point.

Vikings on verge of signing OL Vladimir Ducasse

Reports indicate that the Minnesota Vikings are closing in on a deal with former second-round New York Jets offensive lineman Vladimir Ducasse.

Highly touted coming out of UMass in 2010, Ducasse was largely a disappointment in New York, where he started just four games in his four seasons. At 323 pounds, however, his size and quick feet give him upside, and it's hard to imagine the Vikes will have to invest much money in him. Arif Hasan of Vikings Territory predicts Ducasse will find a home as the backup right tackle.

Ducasse reportedly chose the Vikings over the Bengals.

Terms of Tiquan Underwood's Panthers contract revealed

Wide receiver Tiquan Underwood, who signed with the Carolina Panthers on Friday, will make $2.5 million over the life of a two-year contract, his agent revealed to Albert Breer of NFL Network.

A four-year vet who has bounced around to three separate teams in that time, Underwood most recently played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he tallied 865 yards and six touchdowns in two seasons. Having lost Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn Jr. and Domenik Hixon this offseason, the Panthers were in desperate need of wide receiver depth.

Panthers blog Cat Scratch Reader sees Underwood as a solid signing.

He has speed to get down the field in a hurry, and he produced decently for the Buccaneers last season in 12 games with 24 receptions for 440 yards and four touchdowns. As it stands now he is probably the second best receiver on the roster, slotted below Jerricho Cotchery who signed a contract with the team [Thursday] afternoon.

NFL mulling expanded Thursday rosters

It's no secret that players and coaches aren't crazy about playing on Thursday night, given that it results in a short turnaround from their previous game. In order to provide fresher legs on short weeks, a recent rule proposal calls for increasing the number of players on the active game day roster.

The proposal, which will be submitted for consideration at the next owners' meeting, calls for bumping the number of players allowed to suit up for a Thursday game from the current 46 to 49, per Pro Football Talk. The rule would actually cover any non-traditional game days -- any games not played on Sunday or Monday.

The rule would allow coaches a bit more flexibility on short weeks and would benefit player safety, so this should be an easy decision for the league owners.

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