On Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Steelers signed free agent outside linebacker Jamaal Westerman to the roster to fill the spot that was vacated when LaMarr Woodley was placed on injured reserve. So what should we make of this late season move.
For starters, Westerman isn’t likely to see any playing time in the Steelers final two regular season games and we will have to see if he is considered enough of a special teams warrior to warrant even dressing. He does have four special teams tackles this season with the Buffalo Bills, although three of them came in the game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Being as he came into the league as an undrafted free agent out of Rutgers in 2009, Westerman is in no way considered starter material being as he has bounced with several teams. His upside ends with him possibly being a backup, but I wouldn’t go penciling him in on the 2014 53 man roster just yet.
Just prior to the 2011 season getting underway, Jets linebackers coach Jeff Weeks talked highly of Westerman, who was about to enter his third season with the team.
“In his first year, he flashed as a pass rusher,” said Weeks back in September of 2011. “This is going to be a big year for him to step that up. He’s got the ability: great get-off and quick, active hands. We’re excited about him.”
Westerman went on to play in all 16 games for the Jets that season and started three of them. He recorded 3.5 sacks, five hits and nine hurries in 153 pass rushing opportunities and that translates to a respectable 9.6 pass rushing productivity number. While Westerman can play on both sides, a quick look at some of his game tape suggest he is likely better suited to play on the right.
So how did Westerman end up with the Bills this season after failing to stick with the Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals and the Indianapolis Colts in 2012? The answer is simple as Westerman played for Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine during his time with the Jets. Even so, the Bills didn’t seem to value him too highly as he was released just over a week ago.
Should Westerman stick on the Steelers roster for the remainder of the season, he might give them an offseason body to work with depending on whether or not he was signed past this season. I haven’t seen the contract details just yet, but we will know for sure in a few days.
For now, let’s just see if he dresses for the final two games and take it from there. The Steelers needed experienced outside linebacker depth with Woodley now sidelined for the final two games and Westerman best fit the bill.