Recapping The Steelers Free Agency Signings During The Kevin Colbert Era – 2004 Season

With the scouting combine up next and the 2014 free agency signing period to follow, we are busy taking a look back at the Pittsburgh Steelers free agent signings dating back to 2000, when Kevin Colbert became the general manager.

So far we have recapped the first four years of Colbert’s tenure in Pittsburgh and today we will look at what happened in free agency prior to the 2004 season. Please keep in mind that these free agent signing recaps will be limited to only free agents from other teams that were signed prior to June 1st of that offseason as those are the ones that count when determining whether or not a team a team receives compensatory draft picks. The ones that are usually signed after that date are pretty much cheap, one or two year deals for the most part.

During the 2004 offseason, the Steelers signed four free agents from other teams and below is a quick recap of those signings. The salary cap for the 2004 season was $80.582 million.

Chris Gardocki – 3/8/2004 – The Steelers kicked off their 2004 free agency period by signing Cleveland Browns unrestricted free agent punter Chris Gardocki to a five-year, $6.3 million contract. Upon signing Gardocki, the team released veteran punter Josh Miller. Gardocki made it three seasons in Pittsburgh before being released in May of 2007, less than a month after punter Daniel Sepulveda was drafted in the fourth-round of the 2007 NFL Draft.

Duce Staley – 3/9/2004 – In what could probably be categorized as one of the worst free agency signings of Colbert’s career up until now, the Steelers signed Philadelphia Eagles free agent running back Duce Staley to a five-year, $14 million contract in March of 2004. During his first season in Pittsburgh, Staley managed to start and play in only 10 regular-season games that resulted in him rushing for 830 yards on 192 carries. He also appeared in two playoff games that season and rushed for 80 yards total. The often dinged up running back was in sweatpants more than he was in uniform after that as he appeared in just six more games over the course of the next two seasons with one start. He was eventually released late in the 2006 season after playing just one down in total that year.

Travis Kirschke – 3/10/2004 – In another depth move, the Steelers signed San Francisco 49ers unrestricted free agent defensive end Travis Kirschke to a four-year, $6.41 million contract. Kirschke was needed because the Steelers chose not to match a $1.3 million offer sheet that defensive end Rodney Bailey signed with the New England Patriots. Colbert knew all about Kirschke as he had scouted him when he was with the Detroit Lions. Kirschke went on to play six seasons in Pittsburgh mostly as a backup defensive lineman. He did start 18 regular-season games during that span, however.

Willie Williams – 5/26/2004 – In May, the Steelers brought back a familiar face as they signed Seattle Seahawks unrestricted free agent cornerback Willie Williams to a one-year, $760,000 contract. Williams, who was originally drafted by the Steelers in the sixth-round of the 1993 NFL Draft, had spent the past seven seasons with the Seahawks and was signed for depth purposes. He wound up starting 10 games, however, after cornerback Chad Scott went down injured. Williams played surprisingly well in 2004 and the Steelers wound up re-signing him the following offseason. However, they wound up releasing him in November of the 2005 season only to re-sign him a week later. Williams only started one game in 2005 and was eventually cut for good the following March.

Previous Articles In This Series
Recapping The Steelers Free Agency Signings During The Kevin Colbert Era – 2000 Season
Recapping The Steelers Free Agency Signings During The Kevin Colbert Era – 2001 Season
Recapping The Steelers Free Agency Signings During The Kevin Colbert Era – 2002 Season
Recapping The Steelers Free Agency Signings During The Kevin Colbert Era – 2003 Season

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Matt Manzo

    I can’t believe Duce was with us for 3 years! Felt like only half a year!

  • PA2AK

    Haha that or felt like a decade waiting for him to get fired…remember him better in sweats than in pads!

  • RyanW

    Pretty crazy Willie Williams was on the Super Bowl XXX losing team, leaves for Seattle, returns and is a memeber of the Super Bowl XL winning team that beat Seattle (though he didn’t dress for the game)

  • Matt Manzo

    That’s right! Now I remember wondering when we were gonna let him go!