The New England Patriots are seeing whether veteran outside linebacker James Harrison has anything left in the tank.
After being waived by the Pittsburgh Steelers over the weekend and going unclaimed, Harrison visited the Patriots on Tuesday, a source told NESN.com’s Doug Kyed. ESPN’s Field Yates was the first to report the visit.
According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, Harrison’s chances of signing with New England are “strong.”
“Unless the workout goes unexpectedly poorly,” Howe added.
Harrison, Pittsburgh’s all-time franchise leader in sacks with 80 1/2, has spent much of this season as a healthy scratch, being active for just five games and logging 40 total defensive snaps. He’s tallied three tackles and one sack in that limited playing time.
The 39-year-old was a productive pass rusher as recently as last season, however, when he led the Steelers with five sacks and ranked third on the team with nine quarterback hits. Harrison, who made his NFL debut in 2004, has tallied five or more sacks in nine of the past 10 seasons.
Injuries and unsuccessful roster moves have left the Patriots thin on the edge, with defensive end Trey Flowers (team-high 6 1/2 sacks, 24 QB hits) leading a young group of relative unknowns. Deatrich Wise Jr., Eric Lee and Marquis Flowers all have had success rushing the passer in recent weeks but are unproven commodities.
Getting linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who can play both off the line and on the edge, back from a calf injury will help New England’s defense, but Harrison could provide an additional boost if he still can play.
If he signs, Harrison would be the Patriots’ second-oldest player behind 40-year-old quarterback Tom Brady.