Steelers ink James Harrison to two-year, $3.5M pact

Bad news for the North: The ageless James Harrison is sticking around.

The Steelers on Wednesday signed the 38-year-old pass rusher to a two-year deal, the team announced. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported the deal is worth $3.5 million, per a source informed of the contract. Both years of the pact wholesale nfl jerseys will pay Harrison $1.75 million.

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This was in the cards for weeks, with Rapoport noting last month that Harrison and the Steelers both wanted to work out a new deal.

Players don’t normally draw multi-year pacts two months before their 39th birthday, but Harrison is a different species. The edge defender roamed as a powerful force last season, piling up five sacks on 758 snaps in the regular season before notching another 2.5 takedowns in the postseason.

Finishing as the 11th-ranked edge rusher by Pro Football Jersey Focus, Harrison shined in pass coverage and continued his solid play against the run. Still very much a part of Pittsburgh’s plans for the future, Harrison shows no signs of slowing down.

The , and have all arranged for the former UConn safety to visit their facilities, according to the .

But those visits don’t figure to be his last.

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Melifonwu has parlayed an impressive week at the Reese’s with an even more eye-opening performance at the NFL Scouting Combine, making him one of the draft’s fast risers. At the combine, he combined linebacker size (6-foot-4, 224 pounds) with a 40-yard dash more suited for a cornerback (4.40), and combine-best marks in the vertical jump (44 inches) and broad jump (11-9).

The result for Melifonwu has been a palpable buzz about his draft prospects. An AFC college scouting director sees him as a top-40 talent, and cheap jerseys analyst Bucky Brooks believes Melifonwu is creeping into the first-round discussion. As such, interested NFL clubs that pass on Melifonwu in the first round might not get another chance at him. The Steelers’ first two draft picks are at Nos. 30 and 62 overall. The Seahawks’ first two picks come at Nos. 26 and 58, while New Orleans’ come at Nos. 11 and 32, thanks to a trade with the . New Orleans also will pick at No. 42 overall.

In an interview with NFL Network’s Judy Battista that will air on Wednesday during Up To The Minute, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Pittsburgh is “proceeding” as if Roethlisberger is going to play for the organization in 2017 and noted he doesn’t “spend a lot of time dwelling on it.” But he added that doesn’t preclude the Steelers from looking at acquiring a quarterback of the distant future.

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When asked if Pittsburgh has been considering Life After Ben (L.A.B.), Tomlin responded, “I think we’ve been in that mindset for the last several years, that’s what this business tells us to be in. We better start sharpening our sword in terms of evaluation of quarterbacks and what’s available to us or potentially available to us, that’s just due diligence. So yes, we have.”

Nike Steelers #43 Troy Polamalu White Men's Stitched NFL Vapor Untouchable Limited JerseyTomlin added, “I think because of (Roethlisberger’s) durability and how he plays, I don’t know that we have that level of urgency, but we are taking ourselves mentally through the process. Not an easy one, obviously, but it is what it is. It’s an element of the business. Guys can’t play forever and he acknowledges that and we acknowledge that.”

Big Ben’s superhuman durability has masked the reality that the lumbering QB has incurred a laundry list of injuries throughout his career, his latest one a foot ailment that limited him down the stretch in 2016. With Roethlisberger approaching his age-36 season and whispering about retirement, it’s only natural that Pittsburgh would look to secure a legitimate franchise quarterback to take up his mantle.

The Steelers haven’t drafted a quarterback since 2013 when they selected in the fourth round. Still on the roster as Big Ben’s backup, Jones hasn’t quite inspired , at least not to the point where the Pittsburgh front office would feel comfortable handing him the reins.

So are Tomlin’s comments a sign that Pittsburgh will draft their next franchise quarterback in 2017? Aside from Roethlisberger in ’04, the Steelers haven’t selected a QB in the first two rounds since 1995 when Pittsburgh drafted .

But with some mocks projecting this year’s crop of top signal-callers to drop to the back or out of the first round, this just might be the year that Pittsburgh invests heavily in a Roethlisberger replacement.

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