Roles For Acquired Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agents
Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
The Pittsburgh Steelers were a little uncharacteristic over the the prime of this years free agency period. Both Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin know that another playoff less season won’t be accepted, so looking at the free agent market and bringing in more guys than usual could definitely help the team back in their chase to the playoffs. Here’s a prediction of what the roles will be for each of the newly acquired free agents.
By far the biggest signing of the free agency period by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mike Mitchell was the only one brought in to be a starter. Mitchell will replace Ryan Clark and hopefully will pair with Shamarko Thomas once Polamalu leaves town, a day we as Steelers fans are dreading. Mitchell bring some of the same characteristics on the football field as Clark does, but also adds new life and has a knack for turnovers. He is out to prove that his play wasn’t good just because of the Panthers front seven, that he can play that way with any front seven, and with the problems with the Steelers defensive line at the moment, he will definitely get that chance.
Steeler Nation went through a mini heart attack when they saw both Ziggy Hood and Al Woods leave town (whoever thought that would happen with Hood). With both gone, there was worry about a starter LDE and depth at the position. Thomas was brought in to fulfill one of those needs…and it was for depth purposes. Look at Thomas as last years Al Woods. Colbert stated he is looked at as a DE but can play both positions. There is still no starter at LDE, so Thomas could very well be considered a starter by the time camp rolls around, but with lots of time before then, he is considered a backup.
Along with the defensive line, the Steelers lost two of their top 3 wide receivers from last season. Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery left for the Broncos and Panthers respectively. Cotchery was widely considered a must to bring back to Steel Town, but when he jumped ship, Moore was brought in as his replacement. With a third round pick invested in Markus Wheaton last year, he is the favorite to start opposite Antonio Brown. Also are youngsters Justin Brown and Derek Moye. Moore should be above both of them on the depth chart right now, but that all could change. There is speculation that the Steelers will spend an early draft pick on a wide receiver, and if that’s the case, Moore could get little to no playing time. Right now, however, he is considered the slot wide receiver behind Wheaton and Antonio Brown.
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What position Arthur Moats will play is still up in the air, just know he will play at a linebacker spot, and will be backup. It looks to me that the starters are in place going into the offseason, Worilds, Timmons, Williams and Jones in that order across the field. Moats will also play special teams, but with little depth at the linebacker spot, Moats was an important signing. Don’t look at him as more than a backup, this isn’t the three headed monster we had last year with Jones, Worilds, and Woodley. Moats isn’t taking playing time from any of the starters.
The biggest offseason acquisition behind Mike Mitchell, Blount fits in perfect with what the Steelers wand and need. At the time of the signing, LeVeon Bell was the only running back on the roster with an NFL carry. The Steelers usually have a third down and goal line back, then a change of pace back. Blount fills the third down and goal line back. He will more than likely also steal some carries from Bell as well. Don’t get me wrong, Bell is the top dog here in Pittsburgh, and everyone should know that. But Blount adds another dimension to the offense when he is on the field and will compliment Bell real nice. Just remember, Bell still runs the show in Pittsburgh, Blount is his sidekick.
McCain is probably the worst player brought in by the Steelers in a long time. He is widely considered the worst cornerback in the league, and really only brings special teams play. The Steelers did only have 3 experienced cornerbacks on the roster at the time of the signing, but a cornerback in the first or second round is very much in play. With depth needed, the Steelers definitely could have done better than McCain. He does bring a little experience, but with three cornerbacks in front of him, Shamarko Thomas with slot experience, and the draft still to come, McCain can be looked at as a fourth or fifth cornerback who will probably only see the field during punts and kicks.
Just when you thought the Steelers were done making moves, Heyward-Bey came rolling into Pittsburgh. A very curious move if you ask me, Heyward-Bey is far from a lock on the 53 man roster. With both Justin Brown and Derek Moye at the tail end of the depth chart, there doesn’t seem room for Heyward-Bey, especially with a wide receiver in play early in the draft. But here he is. Right now he is considered a fourth receiver with two younger options breathing down his neck and the draft yet to come. Best of luck to ya Darrius, but personally would rather see the younger guys make the roster. As of now he is a fourth receiver.
We all knew a veteran punter would be brought in at some point during the offseason, just hoping is wasn’t the two the Steelers had punting for them last season. Podlesh will compete for the punting duties with Brad Wing. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Steelers even invested a late draft pick on a punter or an undrafted free agent. But we aren’t there, and it’s between Podlesh and Wing. I hope the Steelers have learned their lesson with these veteran punters they keep bringing in, they don’t work! Podlesh to me is last year’s Brian Moorman, just pushing the young gun and giving them valuable knowledge at the position. Wing has a bomb of a leg and if he can translate to the field, the Steelers could have found an answer at the punting position.
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