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New Steelers FS Mike Mitchell’s Contract Is $25M Over Five Years

It is a rare occurrence that the Pittsburgh Steelers are active in free agency when it comes to the free agents of other teams, but evidently this year was an exception. As announced on his Twitter page, Mike Mitchell has signed with the Steelers.

Adam Schefter now reports that Mitchell’s contract is worth $25 million over five years, but we will wait to see what this contract really tells us when more details, such as guaranteed money, signing bonus, and first-year value, are announced.

Mitchell is a former second-round draft pick of the Oakland Raiders, but did not start regularly until his fifth season in 2013 after he signed a one-year contract with the Carolina Panthers, and that was due to an injury suffered by the Panthers’ starting free safety since his rookie year in 2008, Charles Godfrey.

Mitchell used the one-year contract to record a 66-tackle, 3.5-sack, four-interception, two-forced fumble season, which he has now parlayed into a full-time starting job over five years for $5 million per season.

The signing is of course the absolute last straw for Ryan Clark’s future in Pittsburgh, which was never much in question in the first place. Whether or not Clark plans to continue his player career elsewhere remains to be seen.

More importantly, the move is significant because it shores up the biggest question mark on either side of the ball, arguably, other than perhaps left defensive end.

Mitchell will now start alongside All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu as the deep safety, which will allow the latter to continue to play up in the box more, which is where he appears to be better suited in the latter stages of his career.

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About Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • SFIC

    Hopefully they can add depth at a couple of more positions before the draft. This way we can take the BPA in the first two or three rounds

  • Matthew Marczi

    Definitely interested to see full contract details and first-year cap hit.

  • TsarPepe

    Let’s keep fingers crossed that they guessed right with this free-agent safety as they did with Clark.

  • TJenks048 .

    I love the signing!!! I’m just hoping we have enough cap space left for a mid-level corner or defensive end.

  • Iron Cadet

    I love love this signing. I can’t blame him for not being productive in Oakland, I mean the black hole has a way of ruining players. He was great in his first year with the panthers so we know he can pick up a system quickly. He’s big fast and young, which we needed badly in our secondary. Go on the panthers fan site at sb nation and read what they were saying about potentially losing him. I think Mitchell said it best “last year was just me saying hello, I think next year is when I’m really going to show up” great job steelers!

  • Jeff

    Good coverage Safety who can fill the Ryan Clark role in the defense. Hopefully he calls the defense as well as Clark did, so Troy can continue to roam. Think we may have overpaid a little bit given some of the other deals for established players were only around $6 million, but he should definitely help the defense.

  • dkoy85

    Something new is in the air and it’s Ben only has so many years and they want him to beat the Blonde Bombers SB wins. So close to being legitimate contenders. Very interested in the details.

  • SteelerFan11

    Does this mean the Steelers have less confidence in Shamarko?

  • dkoy85

    Nope. Hes more suited to take over for Polamalu and play in the slot as well. He’ll be given time to hone his craft and be the probowler most of us think he can be.

  • William Weaver

    Don’t know much about him but I see panther fans are upset and sad to see him go. They love him and say he has a real passion for the game. Good to see they aren’t happy.

  • Jay

    I think the signing of Mitchell is indication that Sharmarko is the heir apparent to Polamalu, rather than to Clark. Although Troy received an extension, there is no guarantee on his future after the 2014 season. Whether it’s directly health related or a business decision by the front office, this could be his last season with the team.

  • Pete Johnson

    I’m speechless. Reading Carolina media they are in shock he got 5/25. As am I. This doesn’t seem like the “let the dust settle and see what value we can get” FA move that everyone was talking about. And it isn’t like we have all this cap room to spare. Down to 4.5m now. And only 41 players on the roster.

  • kakello34

    Mitchel ran a 4.39. A fast safety that makes plays. i love the signing. 26 years old now and will be 27 by the start of the season so the defense got younger

  • steelster

    nice post

  • Matthew Marczi

    The Steelers have a lot more than 41 players.

  • Jollyrob68

    I see Shark as our NB until Troy Retires.

  • pat

    We still got money coming from woodley just not right now that money will be used for draftees and insurance policy if needed but im with you might have been a little to much

  • mlc43

    Did you see the first year value of the contract? I haven’t seen it yet. They have some ways to free up more money as well. They could work a new contract with Ben, restructure Timmons, and the most likely scenario, work out a long term deal with Worilds.

  • WilliamSekinger

    an average of 5 mil per year over 5 years of the contract doesn’t necessarily mean a 5 mil cap hit this year. The first year cap hit is likely only a few mil.

  • afrazier9

    I’m not excited but hay it’s a start so we should be going corner 1st pick

  • WilliamSekinger

    This signing has Rod Woodson written all over it. I hope he as good an evaluator of talent as he was a corner. It seems like a great fit signing like Ryan Clack was years ago.

  • steelster

    We have no idea what kind of player he is going to be for the steelers. If he turns out to be as good or better than clark then that is a good contract.

  • Steelers12328882

    This is such great news! Glad we don’t have to chose between Shark and some draft pick as the starter at FS this year.

  • falconsaftey43

    This is great because it lets Shamarko play nickel CB and the third safety role. Essentially helps safety and CB depth.

  • pittsburghjoe

    OK..I liked your post too…until I followed your advice. I went to the Panthers site at SB nation. It seems like the consensus says that he was a product of the system and were not willing to pay the amount of money paid by the Steelers. 5 mill seems pricy…I know it depends on the terms, but another 12 million could have got you a darn good LT.

  • Rubem Dornas

    My fear is that Mitchell is one of those players who shows effort only when they are in the last year of contract.

  • pat

    CB WR DE NT in first round de and nt all depends on were they want McLendon I personally hope we move him to end and get a NT

  • Steelers12328882

    I agree. We haven’t had this type of speed at the safety position in… well I truly don’t know if we’ve ever had a guy back there that can run a 4.39 forty. He doesn’t grade out all that well against the run, but I’ve been wanting a coverage safety for I dunno how long. Super excited!

  • steelster

    yes, he may have benefitted from Carolina’s fantastic front 7, time will tell.

  • Louis Goetz

    One year doesn’t make a career, but he just got paid, and perhaps overpaid, because of one season that included him being the worst tackling safety in football last year?!?

  • Madi

    Valid concern, but last year was also the first year he was starting. That’s probably the bigger reason for the break-out.

  • pittsburghjoe

    Where did you get his speed? If that is true, it makes this a very interesting move. Size and speed. Just like DeMarcus Van Dyke

  • Steelers12328882

    Is he still with the team? I thought he was just interning last year.

  • steelster

    Didn’t shamarko run a 4.37, 40 and Mitchell a 4.39, 40. Wow, that is a future safety tandem with a heck of a lot of speed.

  • WilliamSekinger

    He did intern last year, and I’m not sure where he is now, but this kid was a raider when Woodson was there. You can bet he had at least some input if only his opinion of the kid.

    Not sure where Woodson will end up, but I hope he continues help the Steelers.

  • Iron Cadet

    Keep reading. Don’t just read the first highlighted post. U get to the part where they said yes he benefitted from the defence but he’s the best Carolina safety since minter? Go back and check it out there are definitely a couple that don’t like him but that’s with any player.

  • Jason White

    I love this move a lot. Gives some flexibility in the draft because free safety was a glaring need and now they can narrow it down to in my opinion corner or a tall receiver.

  • Russian Steel

    Big safety, 220 lbs with speed and good hands…plus he isn’t afraid to hit hard. AND just as important seems like bargain deal! still a lot of good FA corners out there too (like 10 or so would be upgrades over Ike as starter) so who knows if this is just the start of a flurry of significant moves…wow it’s so weird seeing us get a FA on first day…been a long time

  • srdan

    great post brother

  • srdan

    lol…htats what I read, that he is very agressive and emotional. I have been screaming for more tenacity!

    Great pickup

  • Josh Knepshield

    This guy adds some serious versatility to the D

  • srdan

    if that is true, he may be the fastest safety in the league.

  • Josh Knepshield

    Ryan Clark is faster…Lol. I agree.

  • srdan

    they are faster than our corners then lol

  • Jazz

    I never heard of Ryan Clark until a few years ago when the F/O signed him. I’m not sure about this contract either, but we all know the Steelers had to make a move. We all come on the site and complain every year because the F/O is never busy making moves during Free Agency. Then when they finally do make a move, we complain. I guess you can never please the common fan. I’m going to remain optimistic, trust in the F/O on this one. I can’t lie though, I’m a little skeptical as well. But I trust in the Steelers, I’m hoping they got this one right. Either way, no one can complain the Steelers at least didn’t try to improve their secondary.

  • srdan


  • srdan

    What is there not to be excited about?

  • Steelers12328882

    That was from his pro day(2009). He was never invited to the scouting combine.

  • Jazz

    CB or WR, or BPA. Seems like they are hot on Dennard, I like Justin Gilbert. Knowing the F/O, they could be throwing out a Smoke Screen.

  • Steelers12328882

    Yeah I hope he comes back too.

  • dkoy85

    Judging from the posters above who have been saying the Panthers fans are saying he plays with passion, if true, would leave me to believe he’s going to carry that passion through his career- cant teach passion.

  • Jazz

    I’m going to give him a pass on that one; he did play for the Raiders you know. Something about that Franchise makes all players sick to their stomach.

  • cencalsteeler

    We got ourselves a gem here boys!! This guy was the Panthers vocal leader on defense. We are starving for emotional help with this defense and I feel we got the shot in the arm that was needed. I wouldn’t put too much into his stats, for last season was his first full season if I recall correctly. We picked him up in his prime and his arrow is pointing up.

  • afrazier9

    I’m just saying we need to up grade so many positions I just hope we address more needs in free agency cause we have been sucking when it comes to the draft

  • srdan

    Agree on all fronts.

    Not only did we get younger where we needed it…badly…but we also go tenacity on defense. Now we have Hayward, Williams, shark and mitchel. All good guys with tenacity on the field. Great job!

    Please sign dannard and let mitchel, dannard and shark mature together. That would be a tough secondary.

  • Dan

    This seems like a lot of $$$$ for 1 gd yr oh wait they did that with worlids to well a Hopefully their right

  • Kevin Gobleck

    Not sure if any of you know but Clarke implied via twitter he isn’t coming back next year

  • Dennis Nevinsky

    We had about 8 M in cap space before this signing. This signing probably took up about 2.5 M in cap space for the 1st year. Below is my best guess at a contract.

    25 over 5 years

    7.5 M signing bonus = 1.5 M per year

    1st year 1M Base

    2nd year 2.5M Base plus 2.5 M roster bonus

    3rd year 3M Base

    4th year 3.5M

    5th year 5M Base

  • srdan

    Define “sucking …in the draft”. If you compare to the stretch of first round all-pro players we had i’d agree on the first round, but beyond that there wasn’t much.

    Anyway…I refuse to discuss the draft until at least 3 years removed.

    That puts us at 2011…cam, Gilbert and Cortez Allan. I’ll go out on a limb and say that Cam will be a pro-bowler. Gilbert and Allan are enough to be excited about.

    2010..Pouncey(a bit overated but solid), worldis (would have been the top free agent on teh market), manny and dwyer….oh and AB. Two probowlers.

    2009 was a bad first round all around in the NFL. ziggy is what he is, not first round worthy, but if he had been in the second round he would be perceived differently…Keenan and Wallace. Two players that priced themselves out of pittsburgh(and keenan wanting to be in LA). But those two are very solid players that would contribute a lot on this team. One probowler.

    2008 A DISASTER!!!! this one hurt, no doubt about it.

    2007 a pro bowler and timmons. Spaeth and William gay.

    I agree with you that we should hold our team to a higher standard, but there are 20 teams in the league that would love that history.

  • Kevin Gobleck

    Verner to the Bucs

  • MP34

    Does this appear to be a fair market deal for a starting FS? It seems to be a bit high for a very small resume. Then again, I guess the same could be said for Worilds?

  • srdan

    I just thought of somehting. Smoke coming out of my ears.

    Shark plays corner now. Mitchel runs like a corner. Draft Danard who is a press corner. We could start playing press coverage.

    Oh, and polumalus role this year is going to be a blast. I imagine we will see 3 safeties on the field a lot. Which further makes an ILB a position that we would not need early in the draft. Williams can play obvi running downs.

  • srdan

    Oh, and thanks Ike for being a team player and making this a possiblity!

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Troy was a speedster when young and made tons of great plays back there. Now hopefully this is the guy that can make plays at the back, while Troy continues to go everywhere.

  • srdan

    Obviously depends on his production. But that is a fair contract for a player wtih an arrow pointing up.

  • steelster

    strange I was thinking the exact same thing I’m glad you made this post. Dennard also plays with passion and is a vocal leader and very physical his only criticized for his lack of top end speed. Make Dennard and Allen press corners and if a receiver blows by them the shark and Mitchell and close in on them because of there great speed.

  • steelster

    Ike is going out with class and style a true professional.

  • Pete Johnson

    Yeah you are right, if you add in the 40 or whatever worthless futures contracts they did to fill the roster out. So now we are at 130.7m with the top 51, and that isn’t even counting Mitchell. With a bunch of players who won’t be here in September, and who are just holding other players places for the time being. MM is probably around a 2.5-3.0m cap hit in 1st year. Back to no money again, but I forgot all our cap trouble was completely overblown. Even with an extra 7m in free cap money we are scraping around again.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    im with you man. They even had a poll, normally where most egoistic fans will vote against the truth, still they voted 58%, high for missing him most rather than happy to let him go. Argumentative, Panthers would have wanted to keep him, but couldn’t afford him. This is not a Keenan Lewis situation, more of Carnell Lake situation. Keep this in mind, both share a lot of similarities already, the coaching up part should be very easy and a smooth transition.
    What ticks me off; every fans always jump on the boat and say “the front 7 made them looked so good” well.. DUH! Ike Taylor was a pro bowler (quality of production) for a long time because of a strong front 7. Ryan Clark was the worst secondary player and adding Mitchell only solidifies the position for few years with Shamarko taking over the reign after Polamalu are done. What does this move tell you? We are in a win-now mode.
    We know our issues. Be curtained of them, we will solve them as best as possible. What cant be signed, will be drafted. What can’t be drafted, will be battled in training camp. Those things always have their ways of working it out and this one is working out for me.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    To me it shows desperation for the safety position. I see the potential but for a guy who has been in the league 5 years and only started because of an injury isnt to thrilling to me. Measurables to not make a great player.

  • Jason White

    Press coverage is what it takes to beat guys like Brady and P. Manning. That and good pressure up the middle. The Jets use it a lot and often give Brady fits. The Steelers did it a lot against the Patriots in 2011 and they only scored 17 points on us opposed to the 50+ points against us last year.

  • Iron Cadet

    Troy ran a 4.33 :) but yes speed in the secondary is always a bonus,

  • srdan

    I agree, the daltons and flaccos can be baited into throwing into zones. But brady, manning or rodgers dont fall for that crap.

  • Iron Cadet

    thanks man

  • Jason White

    Absolutely true. I thought after 2011 LeBeau would have stuck with that gameplan. And yeah you put a little pressure in Dalton and Flacco’s faces just to let them know you’re there and they get jumpy.

  • Cody Younkin

    Good move all-around..for now. Only time will tell if he pans out like last year. Showed a lot of splash play potential last year. Still should draft a mid round Safety for depth for sure, but take the position out of the equation for the first two rounds (at least for this year). Still have CB,WR, OLB as top priorities now.

  • MC

    Speaking of the stats though. 4 picks aint bad and the steelers need all the turnovers they can get.

  • Steelers12328882

    Truth. I should’ve said I don’t think we’ve had that type of speed at the FS position.

  • Brian Miller

    Man, chill out…you don’t even know what the first year cap hit and guaranteed money is yet. It could be a small hit initially, and a backloaded contract that we have no intention of paying for. And as soon as June hits, we get that nearly 8 million relief from Woodley’s contract, as well as any contract relief with an extension for Worilds. We shored up a position for a player they obviously really liked, spent the money on, and got…We still are NOT in salary cap hell, and we hopefully have a starting FS for the next 5 years at a reasonable price. Plus, we don’t have to draft a S in the first 3 rounds if we don’t want to.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Good memory, Mr. White. Remember that game? They were so dominant that game that they could have won by 30 if it wasn’t for their terrible RZ stats. Lots of field goals kept the game close. But they were not giving them an inch that game. Brady was actually flustered. Great game plan. Maybe it’s time to go there again.

    Hell, I am a huge believer in LeBeau, but when you no longer have the pieces to excel the way they have in the past 10 years, then maybe it is time for a change. I will gladly accept a few long TD’s given up in exchange for a handful of INT’s by these CB’s. They are worthy. Let’s give a go and I bet they get a lot more sacks. Just don’t forget they may not get all the calls like the Seahawks. Man, are those guys holding on every bloody play, or what?

  • Brian Miller

    For all of you guys complaining about a LOT of money for someone with only 1 year of production, remember…if anyone has a consistently great resume as a FS, they either never hit the free agency market, or they are way more than the Steelers are willing to pay. Let’s at least give MM the benefit of the doubt before we see him play, and give the FO the benefit of the doubt because of their FA history.

  • Jason White

    Oh yes I do, very well. It was on my birthday to so it was a nice present to have the Steelers beat the Patriots. Funny thing about that game. Before that game was even played I told some people on a forum that the Steeler would win if they followed that exact gameplan and I also added that the Steelers needed to contain the Patriots run game to beat them and so many people called me stupid and said I had no knowledge of football to make a statement like that. I knew if Brady was allowed to effectively use playaction the Steelers would be in trouble so you take away the run, press his receivers and pressure him and push the pocket into his face and you could beat him. I got the last laugh lol.

  • alex

    after all the discussion on this pick its wierd to me…i know we now have a starting stud SS in Mitchell, which we really cant complain about…but, dont we need a starting #1 CB? or do we just really need experienced cover2 CBs if the rest of our boys on D do there job?

    @ 17 the seeming availability looks to be more @ safety w/ Pryor or Dix rather than CB…

  • Matthew Marczi

    If the Steelers *actually* only had 41 players, that would be a huge deal. That alone would add over $4 million to the cap just to fill out the top 51. With the roster as it is, you have to consider the displacement value of new contracts as one new signing bumps off the 51st-lowest-valued contract. Each new contract has a $420,000 buffer. So if you sign a player to a veteran-minimum contract with a cap hit of $555,000, the actual cap needle only moves $135,000. In other words, these last 10 plays who you say don’t exist are far from worthless. To be exact, they are worth $4,291,962.

    $25 million over five years for a starting safety is far from scraping around. Neither is $9.754 million for a starting outside linebacker.

  • Matt Manzo

    I don’t think the FO thought the value was there for those guys. At the end of round one, yes, but 15, questionable. I think after a couple misses the FO wants a solid rnd 1 pick.

  • Matt Manzo

    It’s not worth talking football with anyone but Steelers fans!!!

  • Jason White

    Yep I realize this now lol

  • Dupree

    Well… Shamarko would be faster technically. 4.37

    Troy used to be faster, not anymore (4.33 40)

  • The Great Mr Slippery

    if you compare the size and speed of shark and troy its similar… (4.33 tp vs 4.42 st) shark is an absolute beast in the weight room and he was a bullet at su. Kid can lay the boom. I think he is 100% the replacement for troy

  • steeltown

    Agreed. Just cant please some fans..this kid had 4sacks, 4INTs, 9PDs and 2FF last season, he’s 6ft 213lbs and he’s only 26yrs old.. his tackling can be worked on.. his size, speed and play making ability is god given

    Love it, I had 3guys on my outside FA list, Byrd, Mitchell or Nolan Carroll

  • Derick L Young

    Every system benefits from a solid pass rush. How do you think the LeBeau defense runs? Having Mitchell will be a lot better than not. 60% of the time Troy was in the box. I am much more comfortable with Mitchell playing FS than Thomas at this point. We are experiencing what it takes to win multiple super bowls. The D line needs some help. We miss the days of Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel. Also, Kimo Von Olhoffen. Nix would be good because that is how the Steelers defense works. He plays the first 2 downs to make it 3rd and long. That is how Hampton did it for so many years and that is what is really missing IMHO. No true NT since Bigsnack left.

  • Derick L Young

    Which LT though? Also, Panthers are very cap strapped.

  • alex

    solid day 1 starter @ #1…least we know its not gonna be a safety or OLB…

  • Matt Manzo

    I don’t think they have to start on day one, just be good enough to play in day one. I’m thinking CB or WR or trade down.

  • shawn

    have to agree … the black hole destroys careers … !

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