After he was cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers, it looked like the end of veteran linebacker James Harrison’s NFL career. However, the New England Patriots took a chance on the 39-year-old defender, who became a vital cog in the team’s defense in its run to Super Bowl LII. With Harrison now expected to become a free agent, he expressed his intention of playing for one or two more seasons, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN. And it seems that the Patriots want to keep Harrison, who became a starter and a three-down player under head coach Bill Belichick.

According to Christopher Price of Boston Sports Journal, there’s a reasonable chance that James might return to the Patriots. While it is too early in the team-building process, Price said a source close to Harrison informed him that the veteran could play for the Patriots in 2018.

If the Patriots keep Harrison, he will emerge as a veteran presence to their lineup and a player coaches could lean on, especially if New England hires a new defensive coordinator. Recently, former Patriots defensive coordinator Mike Patricia accepted the head coaching job with the Detroit Lions. After he was cut by the Steelers, Harrison was immediately signed by the Patriots. The veteran linebacker played four regular and postseason games with the Patriots, recording two sacks, 10 tackles and one forced fumble.

Bitter separation for Steelers, Harrison

After signing as an undrafted free agent in 2002, Harrison played 14 of his 15 NFL seasons with the Steelers and saw action for one season with the Cincinnati Bengals. When the Steelers cut him, Harrison was the all-time franchise leader in sacks with 80.5. However, it was a bitter separation for Harrison and the Steelers after the veteran’s role was reduced.

Also, the Steelers said Harrison asked for his release three times after he was relegated to a reserve role. Harrison explained his request for release, saying he didn’t sign a two-year deal to sit on the bench and be a cheerleader. According to Harrison, the Steelers promised him significant snaps, but he did not get enough playing time.

Linebacker Bud Dupree claimed that Harrison never visited injured teammate Ryan Shazier and he was never a mentor to him and T.J. Watt. Both accusations were denied by Harrison.

Harrison reunited with former Steelers teammates

Despite the bitter separation, Harrison has kept in touch with some of his Steelers teammates. Recently, Harrison joined some of his former teammates, including Ben Roethlisberger, Mel Blount and Cam Heyward, for the “Shear Da Beard” event. During the event, former Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel shaved his beard in support of cancer programs at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.