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2013 NFL Free Agency: Bengals And Linebacker James Harrison Have "High Mutual Interest"

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The Bengals have had a busy week hosting and signing players, all of which has hit an apex on Friday. One of the biggest names on the free agent market continues to be connected to Cincinnati.

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

The Bengals have awoken from their free agency slumber a bit this week, as they hosted five free agents (that we know of) and re-signed speedy running back Bernard Scott. One of the four that visited this week, offensive guard Mike Pollak, signed with the club and it appears that former Browns tight end Alex Smith is also nearing a deal. There is another one of the five visitors who could be talking contract with the Bengals in the very near future as well.

Linebacker James Harrison was a salary cap casualty back in March and has had some trouble finding a home. It appeared that he might head to the Baltimore Ravens, but they made a late push and signed Elvis Dumervil, who is basically a younger version on Harrison. Interest for Harrison kicked back into gear on Thursday when the Bengals brought him in for a visit. Though no contract was signed, there are rumblings of there being mutual interest and the two sides could be chatting about a contract in the coming days.

The Bengals are opening up a minicamp this weekend and they could attempt to make a push for Harrison to join the club by then. By most indications, this is the most interest that the former Steelers terror has generated since the visit with the Ravens a few weeks ago. This next few days should tell us quite a bit on whether or not Harrison will be donning stripes in 2013.

The question is with two things: his health and his fit in the Bengals' 4-3 scheme. With Cincinnati's base defensive scheme is primarily in nickel (which doesn't have a strong-side linebacker on the field), Harrison's snaps would likely be limited on the outside. He also played a rushing linebacker role in Pittsburgh, so his pass coverage skills could be a liability in a 4-3 defense. Aside from that, he's 35 years old and had some nagging injuries last year. Still, he brings incredible production, tenacity and a Champion's background with him and that goes a long way in a Bengals locker room that hasn't tasted all that much success.

Oh, and in case you're wondering what Harrison himself thought of the visit: