After the first week of Steelers free agency the faces of the starters are changing and more changes are to come.
Prior to free agency the thought was that the Steelers would re-sign players from their current roster and look to the draft to fill some holes and/or bolster certain positions — a tested formula that they go with every year. Sometimes things happen and adjustment is needed.
Week One of Free Agency in 2016 has been almost a whirlwind so far. Legendary tight end Heath Miller retired suddenly with one contract year remaining. Then, as expected, the team re-signed some of their core veterans with CB William Gay, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Guard Ramon Foster.
Then more unexpected news with the team making about as big a splash-signing as they’re going to by acquiring Miller’s replacement, Ladarius Green, from the San Diego Chargers.
All looked good for the team’s high-octane offense until the news of Martavis Bryant broke on Saturday. Now confirmed, Bryant will miss the 2016 season due to failed drug tests, most for repeated marijuana use.
Not to dwell on the ethics of using marijuana, but glancing back on previous one-year suspensions for violations such as vehicular manslaughter or domestic assault, to say this is a harsh penalty is an understatement. That being said, Bryant will miss the year, and with that the offense loses a huge playmaker.
The team most certainly made the tight end signing already knowing that Bryant would be lost for the year, and with that his ‘touchdown-a-game’ production. The offense is still powerful and will still have surprises with new addition Green and hopefully the return of running back Le’Veon Bell.
Most recently coming out of Tuesday’s reports is that the team will sign tackle Ryan Harris from the Denver Broncos. Harris started last season at right tackle before moving to left due to injury. Former Steelers starting left tackle Kelvin Beachum signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Harris brings more experience to the position than Alejandro Villanueva, and having them compete for the position should help to keep the offense moving and the quarterback protected.
While there hasn’t been much news on the defensive front, it appears Steve McLendon will be signing with the New York Jets, creating a void at the front and center of the defense.
Daniel McCullers is the only player at the position worth mentioning on the roster. Conveniently April’s draft is incredibly deep at the position, and the position itself is the least complicated to learn.
Adaptability in the ever-changing NFL is more key than anything as roster stability is almost unattainable.