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James Harrison is now an unrestricted free agent.

James Harrison goes unclaimed on waivers, becomes free agent

Ryan Wooden

Former Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison was subject to waivers despite being a vested veteran because it’s after the trade deadline, but he no longer has to worry about getting picked up by a team he doesn’t want to play for.

Harrison passed through waivers unclaimed according to a report from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter on Christmas Day. He’s now free to sign with any team willing to offer him a contract.

Harrison was released on Saturday somewhat unexpectedly because the Steelers needed to make room on the roster for the return of starting right tackle Marcus Gilbert. Harrison, 39, would have cost any team that wished to sign him a little more than $70,000 in salary cap space had he been claimed.

However, now he can be signed for the veteran’s minimum for a prorated salary of $62,500 for the final week of the season. For that, a playoff team could get an experienced pass rusher who could also be a wealth of information should that team run into the Steelers during their postseason run.

Given that he’s played only 40 defensive snaps this year, it’s hard to say how much of an impact he could have on such a shortened timeframe, but the Steelers’ all-time sacks leader might be able to give valued situational pass-rushing help on a limited basis.