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Steelers say deal with Harrison reachable

Team president Art Rooney II said Thursday he is "optimistic" the Steelers and reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison will reach an agreement on a long-term contract.

Harrison, who set a Steelers single-season record with 16 sacks in 2008 and returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLIII, is entering the final year of a contract that will pay him $1.2 million in 2009.

Signing the Pro Bowl outside linebacker to a multi-year deal is one of the Steelers' top offseason priorities.

Bill Parise, Harrison's agent, said he and the Steelers have talked regularly, but no breakthrough has been made.

"Those things, they do tend to drag when you're trying to extend somebody," Rooney II said.

Harrison has been taking part in the Steelers' offseason workouts, which started this week.

The Steelers did not host any free agents or draft prospects yesterday, and two weeks into free agency they have yet to sign a player from another team.

The Steelers have been busy locking up their own players. They re-signed three of their starters on the offensive line -- tackles Max Starks and Willie Colon and guard Chris Kemoeatu -- as well as reserve tackle Trai Essex.

Starks signed a one-year, $8.45 million deal at the end of February after the Steelers used a franchise tag on him. Rooney II said the Steelers, who do not have a lot of room under the salary cap, now hope to sign Starks to a long-term contract.

When asked to evaluate how the Steelers have done so far during the free-agent period, Rooney II said: "I think the fact that we'll have (the offensive line) intact for this year is positive, so we're pleased about that."

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