With next to no cap room are the Steelers still looking to fill any of their defensive holes before the draft?
The Steelers aren’t usually big players in the Free Agency sweepstakes, and so far they have made one significant signing at Tight End with Ladarius Green. They did entertain the possibility of Left Tackle Russell Okung, but decided to go with Ryan Harris, and, more importantly, his $2 million per-year salary.
The team’s interest in Safety Eric Weddle was probably also dependent on his asking price. As we all now know, Weddle ultimately opted to sign a four-year, $26-million contract with the rival Ravens. The deal is comparable to what was reached with Mike Mitchell in 2014. Mitchell, though, is four years younger than Weddle; and while the jury is still out as to whether Mitchell will be as effective a player, he stands to have a longer tenure with the team.
There are still many holes to be filled on Pittsburgh’s defense – at Safety, Corner, and Nose Tackle – but, at the moment, there does not appear to be any desperation coming from General Manager Kevin Colbert or Coach Tomlin to fill them quickly. Also, they only have roughly $2 million to work with at this point, which is limiting. More cap room could come if the team can restructure one of their veterans’ contracts, like that of Lawrence Timmons, but nothing has been done yet. Then, of course, there is veteran Cornerback Cortez Allen, whose 2016 base salary is $4.4 million. Allen has played in 12 games the past two seasons, and he has been mentioned often in the media recently because of his salary cap number (more than he ever was for his play).
There are a few players who could help if the team can free up some cap space. Look no further than the AFC North, and everyone’s favorite, the Cincinnati Bengals, where Reggie Nelson and Leon Hall are still free agents. Hall missed a few games in 2015 with injuries, but Nelson pulled down eight interceptions and has 14 in the past three seasons. I’m sure the team has considered these two rival players about as much as they have free agent Defensive End Greg Hardy or Wide Receiver Percy Harvin. None, zero, zilch.
While the team may be reworking some contracts to free up money, they will probably fill their holes in the draft or are confident in the depth that they have. I believe once they have made their picks and workouts begin they will re-visit the free agent pool.