A Closer Look At The Steelers Decision To Bring In Delmas For A Visit

As if we didn’t know it already, the decision made Monday by the Pittsburgh Steelers to bring recently released safety Louis Delmas in for a tire kicking visit shows that the team is more than willing to move on from Ryan Clark.

In addition, it could be a sign that the team is not fully confident that second-year safety Shamarko Thomas is ready to step in and fill Clark’s shoes and the same goes for Robert Golden, who was originally signed in 2012 an undrafted free agent.

Thomas, who I believe the Steelers see more as the heir apparent to Troy Polamalu, meaning that he would play in the box more as opposed to center field like a traditional free safety, only played 193 snaps during his rookie season. In fact, our charting project from last season shows that Thomas played 62 snaps as the nickel cornerback in the Steelers traditional nickel sub package and another 122 snaps in the Steelers quarters package as a third safety. In other words, we, as fans, really don’t have a good idea just yet as to whether or not Thomas is ready to play a traditional safety role at the NFL level, because we have yet to see it happen.

After injuring his ankle in the Week 10 win over the Buffalo Bills, Thomas never played another down on defense for the remainder of the season as veteran Will Allen took his snaps. While that’s not a totally damning sign for Thomas, it certainly can’t be viewed as a positive one, either.

Thomas aside, if the Steelers ultimately decide to sign a veteran free agent safety to replace Clark, it shouldn’t have any bearing whatsoever on the upcoming draft as I fully expect that a ball-hawking, centerfield-type safety will be drafted in the first two days. However, to expect that draft pick to start in Week 1 would be asking way too much and thus the need for a veteran to bridge the gap until the youngster is ready.

Will Delmas be the last safety to visit Pittsburgh prior to the draft? Maybe not, however, I do not expect the Steelers will make a run at Bills soon-to-be free agent Jairus Byrd, either. On the flip side, they’re aren’t really a lot of quality free safety-types that are scheduled to be free agents in less than a month, so I’m not sure we can completely rule out the possibility of Clark or Allen being brought back for one more season if a suitable short-term replacement can’t be found.

  • Caesar

    Why is it asking too much for an early draft pick to come in and play safety right away? Last year Baltimore, San Francisco, and New Orleans all started a rookie first round safety; San Fran and New Orleans got stellar results, Baltimore got so-so results, but definitely not terrible ones. Why is playing in Pittsburgh so much different? This attitude about rookies not being able to play has to stop.

  • Matt Manzo

    Is there any sense of urgency since Delmas doesn’t have to wait til free agency to sign?

  • Jazz

    I agree! Why the hell is it so hard for a player to come in and start in that defense? If it is that difficult, why not tweek it just a little bit so Rookies can contribute more? LeBeau’s scheme isn’t all that effective as it once was anyway, teams have caught up to what he’s doing. And just the thought of bringing Ryan Clark back sickens me as to how the organization thinks. Time to Move On!

  • LayDownTheHammer

    Few reasons: not only with safety, their organizations draft better than MT’s crew. Didn’t watch much of Vaccaro but Reid had the benefit of having lots of veterans and good players around him thus decreasing his coverages and responsibilities; Elam had growing pains and I wouldn’t call his results ‘stellar’ by any means. Last yr’s safety class was deep and this year’s is not. Dix wouldn’t crack the top 3 in last year’s class. And yes, lastly, the downside to having an established coach like LeBeau is that his “established schemes” don’t bend/adjust/tweak for rookies.

    BTW, Golden is Garbage and if all goes well but unless we get a free agent AND draft a S, he stays on this year to my dismay. Ryan Clark needs to go. Reluctance to part with veterans means the younger guys are older when they first start playing and instead of undergoing 1st-time-playing-growing-pains when they are in 21-23, they happen at 24-26 years old, which overall decreases their career productivity (assuming we keep them) – in other words, if they start earlier and get through their growing pains, we get more good years from them in the end. Think James Harrison for an example of having a few productive years (except he wasn’t ready to start early).

  • pittsburghjoe

    Umm, see Jarvis Jones. How did you like that outcome?

  • Caesar

    Called Elam “so-so,” not “stellar.” And if Reid had the benefit of playing with vets, what would a rookie on the Steelers have? Polamalu, Gay, Allen, and possibly Taylor. That not veteran enough?

    But agree about the wisdom of starting them early to get more productive years out of them and getting those productive years while they are still on rookie deals.

  • LayDownTheHammer

    I wouldn’t call Gay or Allen “vets” – they barely have their own sh*t together; they won’t be giving any youngsters advice anytime soon. Too many non-vocal vets and non-leader vets. Long gone are the days of Hines , Farrior, Harrison, Hampton…and Peezy (!)

  • Jollyrob68

    I’ll be happy with the signing and also re-signing Will Allen. Plus draft a Safety.

  • Madi

    I know Shamarko Thomas has SS written all over him, but what’s to stop him from playing FS? The way Ryan Clark has delivered punishing blows and awesome run support throughout his career, combined with his lack of speed and ball-hawking ability, he also has SS written all over him. But he was a bright guy who played careful and he was a great FS for us for a long time. I don’t see why Shamarko couldn’t also do that, at least temporarily until Troy is ready to retire.

  • steelster

    I would rather bring in a long term solution at free safety through the draft or free agency than sign delmas. How is delmas ever going to be reliable with his health concerns. The steelers are very thin at safety how does he help build depth. I see him as more of a problem than a solution and who cares if he is cheap if he can’t step on to the field.

  • Kyle Owens

    I agree with Caesar, draft a guy and get him in the game. I’m sick of the “Dick Lebeau 3-4 defense is too complicated for a rookie to understand” argument. It wasn’t too complicated for Terrell Pryor, Matt Cassel, Jake Locker, and Ryan Tannehill to rip to shreds.

  • RedCarpetDefense

    I am hopelessly convinced he will not make it through training camp with the lack of practice time he’s had last season because of his condition. As i mentioned in another article how is he going to learn the defensive scheme with little practice time? And gain the confidence of the coaches that he knows what he’s doing out there on the field during games especially in critical situations?
    “You can’t make the club if your a$$ is in the tub”

  • John A Stewart

    Last year Mr Butler said he hates rookies I don’t think he’s the only one who feels that way which is BS.

  • Steve

    Did you forget Troy or Timmons? Agree with much of what you said. Rookies come out fast and get warn down because they are not use to the long season. Just ask Big Ben about hitting the wall his Rookie season. Pro’s season is twice as long as College.

  • Caesar

    Look, talent wins out, and part of the Steelers problem is that they haven’t done a good job lately of drafting talent. I am simply saying that this dogmatic presumption that rookies can’t play right away in Pittsburgh just because they are rookies prevents the talent from winning out. If a guys is allowed to play earlier, worst case scenario is you find out earlier that they don’t have it; best case scenario is you get more productive years from them for less money. And the ability of other successful defenses around the league to integrate young guys and rookies shows that the Steelers lack of rookie production is more about the inability of the scheme to integrate them and/or bad drafting than it is proof of the dogma that rookies can’t handle the complexities of Pittsburgh defense.

  • Nolrog

    We’re thin at safety right now. Clark won’t be back and Troy will play another year maybe two and there’s not much depth. Bringing in guys like Delmas is a smart move. This year not withstanding, Troy hasn’t been healthy so he could miss a few games. I don’t think this reflects on Thomas one way or the other.

  • Nolrog

    I liked the outcome very much. He got reps and that helped him learn faster plus he got to see the physical talent he goes up against to help him prepare this off season. Jarvis Jone’s rookie season was a success.

  • Apexsimba

    Building strictly through the draft is a horrible strategy that hasn’t worked for us in years. If a good player like Delmas is willing to sign and we already know he can start why not bring him in rather than spend a draft pick on the position?

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    In the future when our draft picks leave at the end of their rookie contract, everyone should send a big thank you to saint lebeau for having the genius to know more than every other staff in football, that young players have to be 28 before they understand his defense, just as well as 31 offensive co-ordinators in the nfl do. Watch how fast our team improves defensively after the ownership grows some and retires his butt.QB’s love playing against his secondary, it is like 7 on 7 drills to them.

  • Jason

    Amen to that.

  • sean mcmartin

    Its exactly what I have been saying about this seasons draft. Everyone gets hyped about who they draft, and for the most part do not play at all their first year. la beau uses the same plays and the talent is no longer there.. he can coach when he has players that can execute..so does scouting need an overhaul?

  • Matt Manzo

    I think after this year, and next, is when we can really start judging Coach.
    He’s just now shedding Cowhers players and we will see what he can do on his own. He did bring in Timmons, Woodley, KLewis, Wallace, Brown, Heyward, and Bell.
    I would like to see Butler take the reigns of the D asap! I’d like to see Tomlin and his version of our D!

  • sean mcmartin

    Your right matt, I missed a couple defensive guys.
    woodley counts too as he was good before he became injury prone.
    Lewis had a good contract year and the saints got a good starter.
    WR’s have not been a position that The Steelers like to invest in. They are content to let most of them walk without overpaying them. For the most part I agree with that strategy. I give them credit for signing AB. and letting wallace walk , getting a 3rd rounder for sanders would have been nice too.
    So they now have one pro bowler in AB..not enough to make a team competitive in the division, much less the SB. even the stains have more pro-bowlers and the bengals have more talent on defense.that’s how I also can say there is something wrong with the Steelers current “way”.
    even a die hard fan can’t deny the talent is gone.and there is no guarantee the rookies from last year are going to improve the team.
    I’ll say the best moves they made so far are on the coaching staff. porter, munch..If they got a proven HC it would have been a great Tri-fecta

  • Matt Manzo

    I’m not saying they’re perfect. I think Tomlin made some mistakes the past 2 years. But I’m excited to see what happens the next 2. I think areas for improvement are taking more of a risk on draft picks, and player development, which I think is the reason we don’t start rookies. They’re not playing and not developing. I feel like the last 2 years we let a lot if talented prospects pass for “system” guys. Although, last years draft with the trade for Shark was more like it. Just too bad we took Landry next. Would’ve liked to see us get Mauti, Hodges, or Simon.