Originally Published: December 24, 2017 5:55 a.m.
PITTSBURGH — 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.
Harrison, 39, is the franchise's all-time leader in sacks, with 80.5 during his 14 seasons with the Steelers and 82.5 during his career. He briefly retired in September 2014 after 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.
Harrison's playing time dipped significantly this season. He has been active in only five of Pittsburgh's 14 games despite being injury-free.