Steelers extend Harrison's contract

James Harrison may be a backup, but the Steelers saw his value and today signed the exclusive-rights free agent to a contract extension.

The Pittsburgh Steelers secured depth and versatility at linebacker for the next four years by signing James Harrison to a contract extension through the 2009 season. Harrison received a bonus of $1.375 million in the $5.5 million deal.

Harrison (6-0, 242), who will be in his fourth NFL season in 2006, has played in 33 games in his three-year career with the Steelers. He started three games last year and finished with a career-best 30 tackles (21 solo) while adding three sacks and one interception. Harrison's interception highlighted his season as he picked off a pass at San Diego and returned it 25 yards, hurdling All-Pro running back LaDanian Tomlinson on the play.

Harrison, who can play both inside and outside linebacker, has also been one of the Steelers' top special teams players. He finished third on the team in 2005 in special teams tackles with 18, including a season-high four in the 41-0 shutout win at Cleveland on Christmas Eve.

Harrison originally signed with the team as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2002 and spent most of the season on the practice squad, seeing action in just one game. He was on the Steelers' practice squad for three weeks in 2003 before being released in October. He was then re-signed to the team during the 2004 offseason.

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