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Steelers players say that James Harrison wanted out of Pittsburgh

Multiple members of the Steelers wanted it to be known that the team didn’t just decide to part ways

Divisional Round - Pittsburgh Steelers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

James Harrison was released by the Pittsburgh Steelers to clear a roster spot for OT Marcus Gilbert on Saturday. Tuesday, he signed with the New England Patriots.

On Wednesday, Maurkice Pouncey spoke to the media, and wanted everybody to know that the team didn’t decide to just cut Harrison — he claims that Harrison wanted out:

“That’s something he wanted to do. It’s not like they got together and said, ‘We’re gonna go cut James,’” Pouncey said. “No, that’s not what happened, and he needs to come out and admit that.”

Pouncey continued to add, “If you didn’t wanna be here, just come out and say it,” he said. “Don’t make it look like it’s the team’s fault and the organization. You think the team and the organization wanted to get rid of James Harrison? Let’s get serious, come on now.

“If I wanted out, I wouldn’t let the team take the blame for it,” he said.

Bud Dupree, like Pouncey, wanted the media to know that it was Harrison’s choice:

Marcus Gilbert also spoke out against Harrison:

A Jeremy Fowler report on Harrison’s participation in meetings was stunning:

While Bud Dupree claimed he never saw him in meetings:

Mike Mitchell chimed in, but was less strong in his opinions than Pouncey and his other teammates:

Harrison saw a lack of playing time this season, despite having a good 2016 season in which he led the team with five sacks. He made five Pro Bowls during his tenure with the Steelers, but things clearly went sour after a decreased amount of time on the field.

The Steelers drafted T.J. Watt in the first round of this past NFL draft, and it was immediate bad news for Harrison. Steelers linebacker coach Joey Porter told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in August that Harrison was the team's “safety net” and “relief pitcher.”

We’ll have to wait to hear Harrison’s side of things, according to the Patriots’ PR team:

Until then, we’ll probably learn a lot more about how his former teammates feel about him and his departure.