Steelers linebacker James Harrison is willing to restructure his contract. Smart man.

Harrison won't take a pay cut, however, and that stubborn streak could make him an ex-Steeler.

Harrison is scheduled to earn $6.57 million in 2013 and $7.57 million in '14. That's a big salary-cap number for a pass-rusher who turns 35 in May, is coming off knee surgery a year ago and is two years removed from two back surgeries.

Harrison may be banged up, but it's shortsighted to label him old. He's better than most of the young linebackers on the roster, who can't beat him out. He's still good when he isn't playing every down, but the Steelers aren't paying him all that money to be a part-time player.

Which brings us back where we started. Are the Steelers better off with Harrison on their payroll, even in a more limited role, at a fraction of his salary? Yes, they are. To believe otherwise is delusional.

Who on the Steelers' roster is better than Harrison at right outside linebacker? Jason Worilds? He's 10 years younger than Harrison, but an even bigger injury risk. Chris Carter? No, not the Cris Carter who just made the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a wide receiver.

“I don't think anybody would argue at the end of the season that James Harrison was the best linebacker the Steelers had,” said agent Bill Parise, who represents Harrison.

Parise is paid handsomely to say nice things about his client. Harrison wasn't the Steelers best linebacker in 2012 — Lawrence Timmons was. But Harrison was productive. In 13 games, he recorded 70 tackles and six sacks.

What concerns the Steelers are the three games Harrison missed while recovering from knee surgery. When he returned, Harrison wasn't the same explosive force from four years ago, and the Steelers must decide whether to pay Harrison his full salary this year and next, restructure his contract to create a lower cap number, or release him.

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