Steelers Long-Awaited Safety Dance Fully Underway

Now that free agent safety Will Allen has signed with the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday, it means that two of the Pittsburgh Steelers three backup safeties on the roster from last season will not return in 2013.

Gone now are Allen and Ryan Mundy, who signed with the New York Giants a few weeks ago, and up the depth chart goes Robert Golden, the Steelers undrafted safety last year out of Arizona.

Golden, who is more of a free safety type than he is a strong safety, worked at both spots and in the slot as a nickel corner last season thanks to all the injuries suffered in the Steelers secondary. He played all of 46 snaps on defense, and as expected, looked like a rookie.

The most defining moment that showed Golden has a long way to go in his development took place in the Week 15 game against the Cowboys when he bit on a play action fake and failed to cover tight end Jason Witten that led to an easy touchdown reception. Golden was thrown at a total of five times in his limited playing time in 2012 and allowed four receptions for 34 yards and a touchdown.

2013 will be a year that Golden is expected to progress for the positive, and I think that he will. Hopefully, that development comes during the preseason and practice; however, as Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark will hopefully both stay healthy and on the field.

As far as the rest of the safety depth chart goes, the departure of both Mundy and Allen fully guarantees that the Steelers will address the safety position in the draft next month. It\’s not like we didn\’t see it coming, though. Competing with the drafted rookie will be Damon Cromartie-Smith, who signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 2010, and Ross Ventrone, who was signed to a futures contract this offseason.

Cromartie-Smith has yet to play a regular season snap on defense, while Ventrone has all of 30 snaps played on defense during his time with the New England Patriots. Up until this point, both have spent most of their NFL careers on the practice squad.

Due to the injury history of Polamalu, combined with the position flexibility that Golden provides, the Steelers might just carry five safeties on the 53 man roster in 2013. That\’s not guaranteed, however, as the development of the drafted rookie will likely go a long way in determining the final numbers. That and special teams play, of course.

2014 could see a complete overhaul as far as starters go for the Steelers at the safety position as Clark is entering the final year of his current contract, and Polamalu will be entering his 11th season. Should Polamalu stay healthy and productive in 2013, he is almost certain to finish out his current contract that ends after the 2014 season. If he doesn\’t, however, he could become a salary cap casualty next offseason.

Whatever winds up happening on the field in 2013, we can clearly see that the long-awaited safety dance is underway in Pittsburgh.

  • steeltown

    With the injury history of Polamalu.. I fully expect the Steelers to carry 5 Safeties again in 2013

  • Jollyrob68

    Looking forward to it but will honestly miss a healthy Troy P. The Combo of Troy P & Ryan Clark was Awesome together. I think the future will be Robert Golden & TJ McDonald.(former teammates in HS. Coached by TJ’s dad.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    If Troy or Clark get hurt we’re screwd, touchdown city, because the backups we have now havent shown anything. So to step in at safety this season, now we have to sign a veteren free agent safety who would play for the vet minimum. There will be vets on the street available but it is Tyrone Carter level. It stinks. Too bad we couldnt offer Will Allen more than the minimum $!

  • SteelerDave

    Interesting idea. McDonald would be nice but only if we do not reach for him.

  • steeltown

    I dont see them bringing in any FA vet Safeties.. no reason now to bring in a player that doesnt know the system just because he’s a vet.. I could be wrong, but it wouldnt make sense to let W.Allen walk and then sign another aging Safety

  • steeltown

    I think Bryan is right on with that last statement regarding Polamalu, his health and his remaining contracted yrs… If he misses significant time again this season due to injury, he’ll be gone

    Also I’d go as far as to say Clark (if his play remains above the line) will be given 1-2 yr extension after this season

  • good thing safety is a deep position this draft, in fact, this draft is deep in positions that we have major needs, WR, LB, S, RB

  • hergieburbur

    I hope we don’t play Denver before we get this straightened out. Of course, if we don’t get it straightened out, the odds of us playing Denver are pretty slim.

  • redneckmuslim

    Troy in another uniform. I don’t even want to think about it. But it will definitely come up the minute he gets hurt this year. The talking heads will be speculating relentlessly. Would he accept the big cut that James turned down? Would he retire and become a philanthropist?

    It’s interesting to note that the silly “Greatest Play of All Time” vote the NFL is doing is down to 16 choices. Troy accounts for two of them.

  • walter mason

    Golden and Ventrone or Cromartie-Smith, Ziggy and no pass rush. If this happens we will have a long season.

  • walter mason

    Do you mean a pianist?

    I love that flying tackle.

  • steeltown

    I full expect Woodley to return to form.. and Worilds and McLendon are younger and quicker off the line than the men they are replacing.

    I think I’ll reserve judgement till atleast the first couple games are played

    Also, I full expect them to address LB and Safety in the earlier Rds of this yrs draft.. so there should be some more bodies thrown in the mix

  • steeltown

    To be honest, I think Troy (if injured all season again) would consider taking a paycut… or just retire

  • Steelers have the best safety combination in the league. We’ll pick up our future starter in the 2nd or 3rd round. No biggie. Who’s playing receiver?

  • Jonathon Bert Schade

    Maybe Gay can convert?

  • JohnnyV1

    Will Allen played well for us last year. I was actually surprised how well he did play when Troy was out. Glad to see Ryan Mundy go, as I can’t get over his missed tackle in the Denver Broncos playoff loss two years ago. We do need some depth at safety. Don’t forget, we have a former all-pro safety, and darn good coach (Mr. Lake), coaching that group! Have a little faith folks.

  • Garrett Hunt

    We have the best safety combination in the league when they are healthy. Problem is one or the other is usually out, and getting older is not going to help that.

  • mlc43

    Well…we definitely need to pick up a TOP safety this draft because I do believe this will be the last year we see TP43 in a Steelers uniform. We just can’t keep paying him 10 mil a year for half a season (if that). Honestly, I wish we would have just taken this year to get rid of all our camp hitting, injury prone players…if anyone would have taken them.

  • Nolrog

    I think it’s almost certain that we’ll draft a safety this year, I’m thinking 2nd round (offensive skill position in the first.)

  • Michael Mazanowski

    T.J. McDonald drew praise from Carnell Lake at his pro day. Real good chance the Steelers draft him as a mid-round selection.

  • Tim Bodamer

    Matt Elam is a Steeler type. Physical and can play the run… Yes, he needs to get better in space but he is a ryan clark clone. Second round pick… Clark or Troy wont be back in ’14.. Age and injury are isue. Too much risk.

  • Cody Younkin

    About time we start talkin saftey. I think you trade back and get hunter, hopkins in the first, and use the extra pick to trade up in the 2nd to get Elam(preferably) or Reid. That’s the best way to use our first two picks.

  • Fivesevenzero Sports-Radio

    Only thing Gay can convert to is bagging groceries….

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I can see the Steelers adding a veteran FA before the draft.

  • LucasY59

    I know that Polamalu has been injured alot the last 3 seasons, but I hope/think he will finally get a full year without injuries this season, nobody can be injured so much over that amount of time. If he does get injured I think he knows more than anyone that it’s probably time to admit his body cant hold up physically to playing the game and he will retire, no cuts or signing with other teams. He will either play out his remaining contract and play the way he used to (he looked like he was getting back to his old form at the end of the season) or sadly say goodbye (either way they need a young player to build up behind him to take over in two years at the latest, so this draft is where the Steelers can/will find that player. It was never going to be Will Allen so I’m not that upset he signed with another team)

  • I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m 36 and I feel great!

  • zipposteelers

    The common theme is out goes a Pro bowler and in comes a hopeful.
    Not a great off season so far..

  • SteelSpine

    Tho I appreciate your optimism, there’s no basis to think Troy will play 12 games or more this season or in any season in the future. Putting faith that he will be healthy is what got us into trouble in the past. Also players don’t tend to be healthier as they get older, if anything it tends to be the other way around. Sorry, I’m just playin the odds & that’s what the staff should do.

  • Garrett Hunt

    Sarcastic? You also are not playing in the NFL.

  • Chris Ranieri

    Shawn Williams.

  • LucasY59

    Unless it is just that his body is done physically, the odds that he has a random injury that takes him out are just as bad as him staying healthy, no one is that unlucky to get hurt so often (the injury against the Titans was a random accident where he got piled up on trying to get a fumble) some of this injuries lately seem to be nagging/chronic injuries where he cant get healthy. If there were ever a chance that he could get over those type of injuries it’s this year. If he spends more time on the sideline than on the field this year he will know his Body is done and he will retire

  • David Edward

    Glad I’m not seeing a lot of Vaccaro hype here. I don’t think he’s worthy of #17, plus I think Elam is a better fit. If they really want to go S in 1st, trading down is best bet. If not, I don’t think Elam lasts to #48…but if he is then a steal right there. In 3rd, I like Shamarko Thomas…or maybe D.J. Swearinger. Keep the names Earl Wolff or Ray Polk in mind…they are possible day three S picks (4th or 5th)