James Harrison, the 2009 AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year, is on the market. What do you do? Kansas City Chiefs fans, of course, sign him. I saw more than a few tweets like this after the Steelers decided to pull the plug on Harrison last week:
I want james Harrison on the chiefs, we need him!— Tomato Head (@DDUNAGAIN) March 10, 2013
The chiefs need to get James Harrison!!!— T-roar (@torywright3) March 10, 2013
Not so fast, my friend.
First, Harrison is 34 years old. As we've noted around here, those on the wrong side of 30 rarely get better with age. Things like speed and athleticism certainly don't get better with age. Harrison's stats show he had a prime in his career, and he is passing it. There is no reason to expect he will get better.
Second, and most importantly in my mind, who are you taking off the field? It's either Tamba Hali or Justin Houston. Are you removing Tamba, who has been the Chiefs only pass rush in existence prior to Justin Houston's emergence? Or are you signing someone to take snaps away from Houston, a year before his contract is up and the Chiefs will want to re-sign him?
This isn't to say the Chiefs are in the running for him. I don't think they've ever seriously been connected to him, although Harrison sounds like he'd play for a lot of teams right now.
This is your annual reminder that big name players do not mean quality players. In fact, at this time of year, that's usually not the case. You always have to examine why a team, especially a team like the Steelers, were willing to cut a player loose.