PITTSBURGH (AP) _ James Harrison’s long tenure with the Pittsburgh Steelers is over.
The AFC North champions released the five-time Pro Bowl linebacker and 2008 NFL defensive player of the year on Saturday to make room for right tackle Marcus Gilbert. Gilbert is returning from a suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy.
The 39-year-old Harrison is the franchise’s all-time leader in sacks, piling up 80.5 during his 14 seasons with the Steelers and 82.5 during his career. Harrison briefly retired in September 2014 following a forgettable 2013 season in Cincinnati but returned when the Steelers ran into injury trouble.
He collected at least five sacks every season between 2014 and 2016 and signed a two-year deal last spring that would have kept him in Pittsburgh through his 40th birthday.
Harrison’s playing time dipped significantly this season. He has been active in just five of Pittsburgh’s 14 games despite being injury-free.