If you bleed black and gold, the last few days have been a wild ride. It started with Steeler Nation headed into the yearly free agency drudgery of knowing that free safety Ryan Clark would likely be gone for good and all we would have to show for signings come April would be a Cedric Wilson/Shaun McDonald type player. You know, the same old stuff leading up to April\’s draft. March is usually an uneventful time for us Steelers fans, but this March is one that will be remembered for both good and bad. Midnight of free agency came and went Thursday with only the big name signings making waves. Ho hum, nothing strange there. Friday Steeler Nation was staring at another nightmare. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was being accused on Friday afternoon of sexual assault by a young woman in Georgia. The second such accusation in a calendar years time. The Roethlisberger news was trumping many free agent signings and had the Steelers back in the news for all the wrong reasons. Act 2 of the Roethlisberger saga will carry on for some time, but it was not the start to the new NFL season Steelers fans needed.
The weekend rolled around and we were treated to the news that 49ers free agent wide receiver Arnaz Battle would be visiting the South Side on Monday. Ah, our Cedric Wilson/Shaun McDonald type player would come early this year. Then the news that safety Will Allen may be in town on Monday as well. Ok, maybe some safety depth and special teams help there. By Sunday night, no one knew the flurry of things that would happen on Monday that can brighten a fan base. Not only were Battle and Allen signed to contracts. Reserve tackle Jonathan Scott was being brought in to fight for a depth spot on the offensive line and the name Larry Foote was surfacing again as being a long shot to come back to the Steelers. Monday was not looking bad at all as far as Steelers fans go.
In the evening on Monday is when the fireworks started. Free safety Ryan Clark had a change of heart while visiting the Dolphins and told his agent Joel Turner he wanted to go back home. Clark said get it done and Turner reached a 4 year deal with the Steelers that is cap friendly and averages $3.5 million a season. If this news wasn\’t good enough, the word came out at about the same time that receiver Antwaan Randle El would be coming back to the team that had drafted him as well. El will provide some veteran leadership and ensure that the Steelers have some receiver depth on the roster as well. The contract details are sketchy at this point, but early word is that it is just over the minimum and will not break the bank going forward. Even if Foote ends up not coming back, free agency has been successful thus far. The Steelers were staring at a gaping hole in the secondary and slew of young receivers behind veterans Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes. Both holes have been quickly patched and the Steelers will now the luxury of drafting the best player available in the draft instead of feeling locked into one particular position.
The Roethlisberger thing will hopefully be worked out soon, with Big Ben being exonerated. Free agency has definitely help turn a few frowns upside down in Steeler Nation. I am 42 years young and I do not remember a day like Monday in several, several years as a Steeler fan. Without a doubt these few days will likely be forever etched in our brains going forward in Steelers lore. Let\’s hope it culminates in our 7th championship. Oh, I almost forgot. Hines Ward turned 34 on Monday and Steeler legends Franco Harris and Lynn Swann celebrated birthdays on Sunday. What a week.