James Harrison’s snarling tenacity made the Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker one of the NFL’s most intimidating players for nearly a decade.
Big hits — some legal, some not so much — also turned the outspoken five-time Pro Bowl selection into a focal point for a league-wide crackdown on helmet-to-helmet contact.
Harrison’s outlaw image made him beloved in Pittsburgh but reviled elsewhere. His onerous contract, however, no longer worked for a team with serious salary-cap issues. The Steelers released the former Defensive Player of the Year Saturday when the sides could not agree on a more cap-friendly deal.
‘‘It’s been a great run but all good things must come to a end,’’ Harrison tweeted.
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and Harrison’s agent, Bill Parise, had spent the last few days trying to iron out a deal. Harrison was entering the final two years of a $51 million extension he signed in 2009, and was scheduled to make $6.57 million in 2013.
Instead, Harrison — who turns 35 in May — will find himself looking for work for the first time since 2006.
Bills re-sign McKelvin
Cornerback Leodis McKelvin is staying in Buffalo, as the Bills reached an agreement to re-sign their 2008 first-round draft pick.
A person familiar with the negotiations said McKelvin agreed to a four-year contract worth a little more than $20 million. The deal was reached before McKelvin was eligible to become an unrestricted free agent Tuesday.
Used mostly as a third corner last season, McKelvin had one interception in 13 games, including four starts. He missed the final three games because of a groin injury.
McKelvin has made a bigger impact on special teams. Last season, he led the NFL by averaging 18.7 punt-return yards, and became the first Bills player to return two punts for touchdowns in one season.
Moore, Falcons agree
The Falcons agreed to terms with safety William Moore on a five-year contract. Moore was a Pro Bowl alternate last season, when he had four interceptions and 105 tackles . . . The Chargers agreed to a four-year contract with kicker Nick Novak, who was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. Novak made 18 of 20 field goal attempts in 2012. He was signed on Sept. 29 after Nate Kaeding hurt his groin in practice. Novak also kicked for San Diego in the final 15 games of 2011 after Kaeding was hurt in the season opener . . . The Redskins agreed to deals to bring back four players. Left guard Kory Lichtensteiger agreed to a five-year contract, fullback Darrel Young and tight end Logan Paulsen each got three-year deals, and linebacker Rob Jackson also reached terms . . . The Cardinals released receiver Early Doucet, a third-round pick in 2008 who has been plagued by injuries for much of his career. He caught 28 passes for 207 yards in 12 games last season, and had 139 catches for 1,491 yards and seven TDs in 54 games for Arizona . . . George Saimes, a five-time Pro Bowl safety and member of the Buffalo Bills’ Wall of Fame, has died after a lengthy battle with leukemia. He was 72.