Before free agency started, the Steelers cut linebacker James Harrison. Since then, after Harrison found no takers in free agency, the Steelers reportedly rebuffed an attempt by Harrison to become a Steeler again.
Steelers safety Ryan Clark apparently believes the team will regret it.
“That is tough,” Clark told NFL Network regarding the decision to move on from Harrison. “That is going to be one of the tougher spots we have to fill because it is not just the player. It is the way people felt about James Harrison as you looked across the line and realized you had to block him, or a quarterback dropping back knowing James Harrison is coming, running backs knowing they can’t cut back to the left because James is running down the line. You can’t change that. You can’t make a person be that.
“That comes when a guy goes out there week after week and dominates people and that is what James did. He instilled fear into the offense. That is going to be hard to replace. You may get a player with similar numbers, but to have that intimidation factor is going to be extremely hard. It is something that has to be earned.”
Clark remains confident the franchise will rebound from its current transition.
“It is tough but it is the Steelers though,” Clark said. “If you talk about one team who has found ways to consistently be in the hunt to win the AFC North, consistently be in the hunt for the playoffs, it is us. We have been to three Super Bowls in the last decade, so the Steelers know how to retool and get guys right in there that step up to be good players.”
That ability perhaps will be tested more this year than ever before.