Outside of losing some of their own unrestricted free agents and scheduling visits with a few others from other teams, it wasn’t a very busy day-three of free agency for the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has an interesting report Thursday night concerning a free agent defensive end/linebacker that the Steelers missed out on.
According to Dulac, the Steelers had interest in Green Bay Packers linebacker Mike Neal before the unrestricted free agent decided to re-sign on Thursday.
Dulac describes Neal as “big-body type” who can play inside and outside linebacker, however, I think what he really meant to say was that Neal can play both defensive end and outside linebacker.
When Neal first came into the league, he played defensive end for the Packers and it wasn’t until just last season that he made the transition to outside linebacker. Despite his position flexibility, Neal is a much better 3 and 5-technique defensive end than he is an outside linebacker as he clearly is more effective with his hand in the dirt when lined up inside.
Being as the Steelers had interest in Neal, they likely saw him as defensive end prospect. It’s too bad that we will never find out thanks to the Packers giving him a two-year deal that can top out at $8 million if he dresses for every game over the course of the next two seasons.
The Steelers currently have Buffalo Bills unrestricted free agent defensive end Alex Carrington in town right now for a Friday visit, so hopefully that ends with him signing a contract. The Steelers need to start adding defensive line bodies after losing Ziggy Hood and Al Woods early on in free agency.