The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to add depth to their roster by signing yet another former San Diego Charger.
According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Steelers have signed defensive lineman Ricardo Mathews. After adding depth to the offensive line and inside linebacker, the Steelers added Mathews to fill in as a rotational defensive end for Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt. He also has the ability to play on the interior of the defensive line.
Although terms of the deal have not been disclosed as of yet, Mathew’s contract is a one year deal. After Steve McLendon and Cam Thomas exited in free agency, adding depth to the defensive line was a must. This gives the Steelers an experienced lineman to compete with L.T. Walton and Caushad Lyons in training camp.
Standing in at 6’3″ and weighing in right at 300 lbs, the former Cincinnati Bearcat was selected in the seventh-round of the 2010 draft by the Indianapolis Colts. After playing out his rookie contract in Indy, he spent his next two seasons with the Chargers, making seven starts all along the defensive line in 2015.
In eighty career games, fifteen of which he has started in, Mathews has totaled 59 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles, and four defended passes. While these may not be eye-popping stats, Mathews can serve as a great rotational player to keep constant pressure and fatigue off of Heyward and Tuitt.
Heyward appeared in 976 snaps last season, while Tuitt’s number ended at 873. The numbers total out to 88% and 78.7% of snaps played in the entirety of the 2015 regular season. While the two defensive bookends are a monstrous force on the field, the must not be fatigued to the point where they are ineffective towards the end of 2016.
When Tuitt was forced to miss two games last season due to injury, his absence in the Steelers’ pass rush and run defense left a big impact on the defensive line. A combination of Walton and Thomas was in no way enough to replicate the tenacity the young lineman brings. Giving the Steelers’ defensive lineman that kind of experience in case the unmentionable happens will go a long way in helping them maintain some consistency in production.
While some may see this as a reach or a waste of cap space, the Steelers are once again playing free agency smart and bringing in athletes they feel can contribute to the team and not have to break the bank in doing so. This also gives Pittsburgh a potential solution at the nose tackle position at the same time.
Hopefully the Steelers will not have to ask too much of Ricardo Mathews in 2016, but he could prove to be a great long-term solution in Pittsburgh if his short-term contract shows promise in the season to come.