Fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers have been talking about the story that been floating around that former players James Harrison and Santonio Holmes would like to rejoin the franchise. For some fans, this is something Kevin Colbert, Mike Tomlin, and Art Rooney II have to do, that in some way these veterans will help break the Steelers out of their consecutive 8-8 seasons. Other fans want no part of these two veterans. Which group is right?
Yes, Harrison was a NFL Defensive Player of the Year and at one time one of the most feared pass rushers in the game. However, at this point, he is no more than a situational pass rusher in the Steelers 3-4 schemes that does not play special teams. On top of that, his game when in his prime was leverage and power due to his smaller size, elements that differ from the core skillset of either Jason Worilds or Jarvis Jones. Thus, begging the question of how much of an impact will he have?
Another question would be whose spot would he take. The Steelers will likely carry 10 linebackers on the active roster, and at this point, the bottom two would appear to be special teams oriented. At this point, if signed, Harrison would appear to be battling linebacker Chris Carter or draft-pick Jordan Zumwalt for the final position. At his elevated age with diminishing skills, the Steelers would be better off allowing the young linebackers to learn on the roster instead of on the street. Besides, they hired Joey Porter to be a mentor (a player with a similar skillset to Jones and Worilds) and do not need to add age to the roster just to hold onto the past.
Holmes is even more of a no. In fact, it is hard to make the case in any way for the Steelers to bring him back. Yes, he is a former Super Bowl MVP and will forever live as a legend, but he has become injury prone missing 17-games over the past two seasons with the New York Jets.
Yes, one can make the case that he would be an upgrade over Darrius Heyward-Bey as the teams’ number five receiver. However, Heyward-Bey is a standout gunner on special teams, which is a dimension that Holmes cannot add. In fact, with Antonio Brown entrenched as a punt returner and rookie third-round pick Dri Archer brought in to take over those roles in the return game, Holmes offers next to nothing to the roster except blocking the development of the young receivers on the roster.
In fact, that factor-blocking young player development- is the primary reason the Steelers have suffered through 8-8 campaigns. For many seasons, this was a veteran team and the young players never had to step in and play. Now, some of these young players are ready to move on before truly getting a chance to shine.
This is a new generation of Steeler football and the fans must let go of some of their past heroes. They can start by telling the franchise no way on Harrison and Holmes, and look forward to the development of the young talent on the roster.
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