There were only a small handful of positions that the Cincinnati Bengals needed to address this year to really round out their roster. Between free agency and the draft, the team did a pretty good job at filling those holes. One position that needed addressing was at outside linebacker--particularly at the strong side position. They deemed to have found their answer in one of two players on the free agent market: Karlos Dansby and James Harrison.
After briefly courting Dansby, the Bengals then heavily pursued Harrison and signed him. Most feel as if it was a good move, if not only for the former Pittsburgh Steelers terror bringing quality leadership to the team. Harrison eschewed taking a pay cut from the black and yellow and signed a two-year deal with the orange and black to the tune of $4.45 million. Though it wasn't wholly confirmed, it was believed that Harrison's gamble in not taking the pay cut from the Steelers didn't work out for him, as he likely signed for less than what Pittsburgh was offering him.
Some who follow the Bengals thought Dansby might be a better fit for the Cincinnati defense because of his versatility and ability to defend the pass, but the Bengals didn't agree. Dansby ultimately reunited with the Arizona Cardinals, the team with which he began his NFL career.
Recently, Dansby signed a one-year deal for $2.25 million to land in Arizona. It contained a $1 million signing bonus and had a $2.25 total cap hit. Conversely, Harrison will be making $3 million in 2013 and will count $2.3 million against the cap. In the Harrison deal, the Bengals protected themselves in 2014 in case he can't regain his Steelers form. Dansby is a few years younger than Harrison and thus may have a couple more years left in him, but we'll see.
So, as you can see, the contracts are relatively similar. Both teams landed quality players and have seemingly helped their respective defenses. It's just a matter of if the Bengals made the better decision by sticking with Harrison instead of going with Dansby--only time will tell.