After a long boring off-season where their only move was to re-sign the clumsy leadfooted offensive linemen who almost get Ben Roethlisberger killed every time he goes back to pass, the Pittsburgh Steelers have finally reached beyond their borders to bring in a couple free agents.
The biggest name of the group is WR Shaun McDonald, formerly of the Detroit Lions. Evidently somebody in the front office finally mentioned to Kevin Colbert that our current depth chart reads Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Limas Sweed, and bupkiss. Yes, we’re one tweaked knee away from Martin Freakin’ Nance being our slot guy. Not good. McDonald is only 27 and had a near 1,000 yard receiving season (with 6 TDs) back in 2007.
Along the depth front, CB Keiwan Ratliff, a 28 year old former 2nd round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bungles in 2004. He’s bounced around the league, last season seeing limited action for the Colts. Seeing as Fernando Bryant looked horrific last year, I’m guessing Ratliff will take the place of veteran backup behind our new Three Amigos of Ike Taylor, Deshea Townshend, and William Gay.
On a lesser note, the Steelers signed 11 year veteran P Dirk Johnson. He’s been on a bunch of teams and never stuck for long so I think he’s just there as insurance in case Dreamy Daniel Sepulveda‘s torn ACL hasn’t healed as well as we all hope. They also signed K Piotr Czech, who is actually Polish so he’s destined to be a folk hero around here if he makes the team. He’s never actually kicked in an NFL game, however, so I’m thinking this move is more of a thinly veiled threat to Skippy Reed to get his act together and don’t be beating on any more towel dispensers.
In other free agent news, the Steelers signed a slew of college free agents who went undrafted in last weekend’s selection meeting. Long Snapper Mark Estermyer of Pitt has taken the place of Jared Retkofsky, who was released after suffering injuries in a motorcycle accident. I’d make a dumb Pollack joke here but he has a ring and I’ll just leave it at hope the crotch rocket was worth your roster spot, Jared.
We also signed not one but two QB prospects. Kevin McCabe out of California University (of PA, which makes about as much sense as Czech being Polish I guess) by way of Pine-Richland High School. McCabe started out as a highly touted prospect at Virginia but he ran afoul of head coach Al Groh‘s son (who happened to be the offensive coordinator) and was Flacco’d out of town. The other prospect is a really interesting kid by the name of Mike Reilly out of national powerhouse Central Washington. If you watched every painful mind numbing hour of the draft, you probably heard Ron Jaworski mention him. Jaws broke down every throw he made since Pee Wee football (I think) and determined this kid was the most Tom Brady-esque of the bunch. It’s kinda funny that we have what looks like a future Slash (Dennis Dixon) and now a future Tom Terrific (Reilly) sitting on the bench.
Although let’s all hope and pray our crappy offensive line doesn’t put us in a position where we’ll have to put those projections to the test.