Recapping The First Day Of Free Agency

The opening day of free agency was certainly a busy one all around the league, and this year, the Pittsburgh Steelers even got involved, signing an outside free agent to a high-value contract for the first time, unless I’m mistaken, in Mike Tomlin’s tenure.

The Steelers began the day by officially releasing outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley, who was the second draft pick in Tomlin’s era as head coach of the team, after seven seasons, six as the starting left outside linebacker.

Woodley had exceptional success early on, and reached a peak in 2009 when he recorded 13.5 sacks, being named to his lone Pro Bowl, and also being named to the second-team All-Pro team.

A series of soft tissue injuries over the past three seasons, however, have derailed his career, and it reached a tipping point this season after Jason Worilds had a breakout season in his contract year and the Steelers drafted an outside linebacker in the first round, making it a borderline necessary decision to part ways financially and schematically.

That news was not only old, however, but also not at all surprising. On the exact opposite end of the spectrum was the signing of former Carolina Panthers free safety Mike Mitchell.

Mitchell, who will turn 27 later this offseason, started 14 games last season, his first year as a starter. He showed himself to be a big hitter who needs to work on becoming a more solid tackler, but he offers legitimate size, speed, and big-play potential on the back end, intercepting four passes, forcing two fumbles, and registering three and a half sacks.

The deal was worth $25 million over five years, but further contract details are yet to come out, so it’s not clear where the Steelers still stand from a cap standpoint. They entered the day somewhere between $7 and $8 million under until June.

Elsewhere around the AFC North, the Baltimore Ravens joined in on the flurry of offensive tackle transitions, locking up their own franchise left tackle, Eugene Monroe, to a comparatively modest five-year, $37.5 million deal. At the same time, they also lost defensive end/tackle Arthur Jones to the Indianapolis Colts.

Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Bengals lost defensive end pass rusher Michael Johnson, who joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and also appear set to lose slot receiver Andrew Hawkins to the division rival Cleveland Browns. Hawkins is a restricted free agent with no draft penalty to sign. He accepted the Browns’ four-year, $12.2 million offer. The Bengals have a week to match the offer, but are not expected to do so.

The Bengals also released center Kyle Cook, who is expected to be replaced by the recently re-signed Mike Pollak, and re-signed Taylor Mays.

In addition to pilfering Hawkins, the Browns have allowed safety T.J. Ward to depart for the Denver Broncos, instead giving more money to his replacement, Donte Whitner. In order to replace D’Qwell Jackson, they also signed Karlos Dansby.

As far as the Steelers go, they likely have already taken their big dip into the free agency pool with Mitchell. The next step will be coming to a long-term extension with Worilds and retaining some of their own remaining free agents, among them Jerricho Cotchery, Jonathan Dwyer, and Al Woods.

About the Author

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

    I believe they addressed the most important position heading into the off-season. Ive been adamant that they draft a FS in round one but now they can either grab a WR, CB or even an ILB if they like that Moseley kid.
    I’m confident our secondary will be an improvement over last season.

  • Richard Edlin

    They’ve now got the freedom to go best player available in the first round or two … and it’s been a while since that was the case.

  • RedCarpetDefense

    Just like the Browns….get rid of two very productive players and then replace them with two older players that you overpay. New FO, new coaches same pitiful antics.

  • Brian K

    I could still see a trade down. The rumors right now are that Mosley is sliding down, but you know how these rumors are at this junction. My two choices for #15 would be Dennard or Evans.

  • CW

    Really depends on who is there are 15th overall. If Evans, Gilbert, Ebron, and Dennard are gone and NIx, Mosley, and Benjamin all look like late 1st or early 2nd round selections, then I’d like to see the Steelers trade down.

  • joed32

    I would too but Colbert has only traded down once, about 3 spots for Hampton.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Let’s hope so. Because they do have a good nucleus and if they ever smarten up, they could contend. Just a few key positions and they could be good.

  • shawn

    Still need a CB early

  • shawn

    This can be viewed from 2 perspectives … equally correct

    1. We signed 2 productive young upcoming players ( Worilds & Mitchell) to bolster our Defense

    2. We paid A lot of $$$ to a couple of players that are largely unproven and we still aren’t sure of what we got in them

    Time will tell if both of these signings were good insightful and end up making the FO look smart or did they jump in with their head first and end up looking foolish …

    The only positive i can surely say for now is they are making moves and aren’t content with the status quo … the old saying the only bad decision is no decision !

  • MC

    BPA might be CB at that spot which would kill two birds in terms of BPA and need.

  • MC

    I’m all for a trade down. I was screaming for one last year too.
    Hopefully if the opportunity presents itself they take it cause they seem to be stubborn and stuck in their ways when it comes to moving around in the draft.
    I would be happy with Dennard. Haven’t seen anything on Evans yet. A trade down and still getting Mosely would be awesome.