The Pittsburgh Steelers continued their quiet, but productive offseason with the signing of 31 year old Offensive Tackle Ryan Harris today.
The Steelers have never been a team to make flashy signings like some of the other big spenders of the free agency period. Pittsburgh has been a team that has valued the draft over free agency for quite a while now, and have chosen to ensure they can retain their current players instead of thinking about the next big fish out there.
After the signing of Tight End Ladarius Green as an attempt to fill the void left by fan favorite Heath Miller, excitement started brewing among the Steeler faithful. Green was a great value pick up with loads of potential.
With the offense looking great despite the unfortunate news that Martavis Bryant won’t be playing next season, the only worrisome thing is keeping everyone healthy. Pittsburgh experienced multiple severe injuries with Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell, basically the stars of the offense.
One way to prevent injuries is bulking up the protective force of the offense; the offensive line.
With the young Kelvin Beachum now signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Steelers couldn’t afford to trust Adams or Villanueva to protect Ben Roethlisberger quite yet. While Villanueva showed plenty of promise last season, he still needs some time to develop, and the signing of Ryan Harris is perfect for that.
Harris is older than some might want in a free agent, but with his price tag, and what the Steelers really need him for, it’s a perfect deal. Harris is by no means a permanent solution, but a great temporary one.
Harris started all 16 games for the champion Denver Broncos last season, providing stability to an offensive line that experienced a few injuries last seaosn.
While Harris primarily played Right Tackle throughout his career, he was asked the shift to the left side after Ty Sambrailo experienced a season ending shoulder injury. Despite playing out of his comfort zone in a way, Harris did a stellar job protecting the aging Peyton Manning, and younger Brock Osweiler.
Harris is not a star player. Since being drafted in 2007, he’s played for a variety of teams and was often a rotational player.
After a formidable 2008 campaign with Denver, Harris sort of fell off the map with a few injuries, and other setbacks, and found his way to Houston, where he rarely saw the field. Following the stint in Houston, he had a 1 year tenure with Kansas City in 2014, having possibly his most effective season.
Despite his effectivity in Kansas City, they chose not to retain him, and Harris found his way back to Denver, and as stated above, found the success that had been missing for a few years. While his career isn’t anything special, his performances in the last two seasons have proven that he can still play, and is worthy enough to be signed by Pittsburgh.
Harris’ signing allows Pittsburgh to officially answer the questions on the left side of the offensive line that surrounded the team at the beginning of the offseason. It also allows the Steelers to decide whether they can roll with Villanueva for a while after Harris leaves, or if they need to invest in a draft pick at some point.
While it’s not a flashy signing by any means, it’s an important one, and is just another good decision by the Steelers in what has been, so far, a productive offseason.
Welcome to Pittsburgh, Ryan Harris.