Steelers GM Kevin Colbert Was Spot On With His Free Agency Prediction

Prior the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, Pittsburgh Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert weighed in with his thoughts on the then-upcoming free agency signed period during a radio interview and at that time he speculated that it could be different from the norm.

“I think there’s a possibility we could be more active in the free agency market this year than we have in the past,” started Colbert. “Not only from an availability standpoint or from a depth requirement standpoint, but also from a cap situation that we haven’t been able to some types of things in the past, because quite honestly we had more work to do just to get into compliance.

“So it’s a different group finishing this season than it has been in the past. It’s probably a throw back to the early 2000’s when we were trying to put it together. At that point, we were a little more active in free agency with a James Farrior and a Jeff Hartings, and so on and so forth. So it’s kind of cyclical, but I think we could more active in free agency, but again, the market will dictate that and how much we’re able to get in compliance with the cap, or get under the cap, will dictate how much we’ll be able to add from the outside.”

Colbert was spot on with his speculation. On Friday, the Steelers signed their fifth outside free agent of the offseason in former New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount and that should pretty much put the wraps on the higher profile Steelers 2014 free agent signings for this offseason.

Dating back to March 11, the Steelers have indeed tackled their depth needs in addition to adding a starter as safety Mike Mitchell, defensive lineman Cam Thomas, wide receiver Lance Moore, linebacker Arthur Moats and Blount were all signed to the roster. In addition to those outside free agents, center Cody Wallace, safety Will Allen, long snapper Greg Warren, tackle Guy Whimper and tight end Michael Palmer were all re-signed.

The last time the Steelers signed four unrestricted free agents from other teams was in 2010 when wide receiver Arnaz Battle, tackle Jonathan Scott, safety Will Allen and linebacker Larry Foote were all signed. However, the difference between those free agent signings and the ones that happened this offseason is that the four in 2010 all took place in May, while the four unrestricted player signings that took place this offseason all happened in March.

While Moore was technically a street free agent following his release from the New Orleans Saints, he was high profile enough to count as a fifth. The good thing about his signing, however, is that it will not in the compensatory formula next offseason.

While we don’t have the exact base salary breakdown of the contract signed on Friday by Blount, we know enough of the numbers to know that the contract of linebacker Lawrence Timmons didn’t require restructuring to accommodate the running back. In other words, Colbert was very responsible with future cap dollars over the course of the last few weeks.

The Steelers are currently right up against the $133 million salary cap number, but they’ll get an additional $8 million in cap space come June 2 when the release of linebacker LaMarr Woodley officially comes off the books. Until then, Colbert will continue to monitor the remaining unsigned free agents to see if any can be added for a minimum salary if he believes a certain player will improve the roster.

For the most part, however, Colbert’s job is now done as it relates to free agency and he will now turn his full attention to the draft.

  • tristan

    Solid offseason so far

  • westcoasteeler

    …”Colbert was very responsible with future cap dollars over the course of the last few weeks”. This is huge.

  • MDPensFan

    Maybe my favorite aspect of this off-season.

  • steeltown

    Well done

  • mlc43

    Agreed, We should be set up for a great off season next year as well. I wonder what our cap numbers look like next year so far. I know it’s early but now I’m curious.

  • mlc43

    I’m starting to think it might be a smart idea to draft Lewan if he falls to us. I was set on OT early in the year last season but have not seen the need since. However, getting a solid LOT would sure up the Oline for years to come. Still, I think I would rather see CB and then WR or TE depending on who is available.

  • Kurt Williams

    Great job Dave Bryan, thanks!

  • frednash

    Colbert wasn’t alone,

    Omar, Mike and Art for sure helped!

  • Doug Sawyer

    I’m still on Benjamin in Rd 1…with a powerful receiver like him and our new power run game…we will impose our will on teams.A CB in the second and 3rd…a DT in the 4th …Would also like to see the pick of DeAngelo Thomas in the 5th

  • Callentown

    And just a couple of weeks ago the sky was falling .. lol.

    With a good draft and possibly a player already on the team rising past our expectations, 2014 is looking better all the time.

  • mlc43

    There was quite a bit of doom and gloom here. If I weren’t familiar with some of the names I would have thought Patriot trolls had invaded the site.

  • mlc43

    I’m not as high on Benjamin. Honestly, I think the Steelers go CB if Dennard or Gilbert are available. The WR class is deeper than the CB class and you could get very comparable WR talent in the 2nd if the chose to. I know I’m excited to see what happens in the draft.

  • DoctorNoah

    I like CB in the first over WR, but I really don’t know anything about CB depth in the draft. I still think Ebron is head and shoulders above the other TE’s and would go for him in the 1st if available. I don’t know if Gilbert or Dennard are the second coming of Darelle Revis.

  • Doug Sawyer

    I am…pretty sure he’ll be in Black and Gold this fall too…Hear out my reasoning.Colbert said he had never seen a CB depth ever before in his career at the senior bowl.That tells me there is in other years 2nd and 3rd round picks that would in other years be rated higher.

    Secondly,our defensive system makes it very hard to walk in on day one and start…it just doesn’t happen.So any perceived value of getting a CB who walks in day one and starts is doubtful to happen.That to me makes a CB #1 unless it was Gilbert(will be off the board)less of a value…

    On the other hand you can put a Benjamin in the slot as a rookie and he will demand a CB and a safety over the top on him just running aggressive routes…In other words his decoy factor alone is more value than a CB who comes in during Nickle and Dime packages.

    We can get the same value from CB’s drafted in the second and third

  • Eric MacLaurin

    2010 is a great comp. I would have liked a farrior or hartings quality FA instead but feel a lot better about our depth than I have.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    Your arguments for drafting Benjamin in the first are all related to CB’s and first year production?

    The WR position is just as deep as CB.

    If they draft him it will be a trade down or the second round.

    Google spell check is some of the weakest software I have ever seen. Deerp as a correction for deep? This tablet must have been made by fin monkeys.

  • Doug Sawyer

    Benjamin in his second year could dominate the league ..that has more value than a CB who only dominates a player he covers…WR>CB always

    That dinner photo of Benjamin Tomlin Haley was very telling…A Kelvin Benjamin running down the sideline makes A.Brown a nightmare… he makes Miller even more wide open and even opens up chances for a developing Wheaton.Benjamin across the middle commands LB’s or safeties and that further opens up a power run game….all of this happens without him even having to catch the ball…and he can catch the ball and do damage…the kid is a monster

  • Jollyrob68

    Dennard is the physical cb the Steelers like but he’s 2 inches shorter. Gilbert is the playmaker they’ve been looking for and would be a Great replacement for Ike.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    I think the telling part is that the Steelers don’t telegraph their first round picks like that.

  • Douglas Andrews

    The Steelers have managed to remain under the cap without restructuring any contracts. They still could get further under the cap with a long term deal with Worilds or with a BR extension. Tip my hat to the FO. Not only do I like the FA signings but they have been responsible with cap management. Pretty solid offseason to this point.

  • steeltown

    They restructured A.Brown, but only that one.. its been awhile since the last offseason where only ONE player was restructured. Great job.

  • Doug Sawyer

    I also don’t think they blow smoke up peoples rears…they did the same thing(dinner) with Bell last year…and they loved Bell and did not hide it…fact is no one is going to jump in front of them to take Benjamin…So they can relax.Truth is if they could trade back and get him great
    but the Ravens will snatch him up if he is there…we don’t want that

  • Kevin Reich

    Benjamin is not that good. He is slow, not quick and has bad hands.

  • Doug Sawyer

    He will never fall that far to Pittsburgh…we can get a top tier CB in Rd 2 and a starter in the 3rd…We kept Ike for a reason…to groom CB’s …I also think Ike’s words on Benjamin are a signal as well…calls him “a game changer”
    and that’s just from working out with him…think of all the top receivers Ike has shut down over the years…that is a huge endorsement

  • Doug Sawyer

    Oh right,I guess the NFL consensus of him being a mid rd #1 or early 2 have it all wrong …Unless you are talking about Benjamin Franklin and yes he has slowed down over the years

  • Sabbie

    Nice work.

  • mlc43

    Is there a limit to how much cap can carry over to next year? If this is the case wouldn’t it be wise to get as far under the cap this year that we can so we can carry over some money to next year?

  • Aric Brown

    If they are taking Benjamin in the 1st they better trade back… way back

  • Doug Sawyer

    I think maybe 3 spots …problem this year is there is talk of lots of teams wanting to trade back

  • Milliken Steeler

    On that note though Doug, what the so called experts think is irrelevant as they have missed on so many top picks, I don’t have enough room to list all the first round busts.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    I am starting to lean more towards your opinion on CB.

    When Colbert says there is more depth than he’s ever seen at CB that means there are guys in the 3rd and 4th and 5th round that are 2nd round quality talent.

    Why draft a CB in the mid 1st when you can get just about as good a CB in the 3rd? I know we as fans fall in love with “big names” like Gilbert and Dennard, but coaches and scouts look for “big skill sets”.

    Pierre Desir can probably be had in round 3. He’s 2 inches taller than Dennard, His arms are 2 inches longer. He weighs the same. And he’s almost as fast. Scouting reports say he has very good cover skills and ball skills. That is not to say Desir is better but he is starter quality.

    There are guys like Dontae Johnson (NC State) who are 6’2″, 200 pounds, that run a 4.45 forty, that could be available in the 5th round. He could develop into a starter.

    Brandon Dixon is 5’11”, 203 pounds, with 32.5″ arms, and runs a 4.41 forty, that could be there in the 7th round. He could be a very nice #3 or #4 CB.

    The point is not what you or I think. It’s what Colbert thinks. And his pattern has been to pick up 2 or 3 mid round CBs with upside over a 1st round finished product.

  • Doug Sawyer

    LOL…right… I mean we all talk like we’re some sporting gurus…there is stuff going on that we have no clue about
    we just don’t…I’m just trying to look at it with what we have what would help…another WR in the mold of what we have already does not make sense…So a big guy and a guy who can play on day one..

    The CB pick at #1 makes it hard to substantiate going after another high CB…I mean if Dennard and Gilbert are that good…why draft another one?and that’s what bothers me…banking on one guy is risky…banking on that one guy at CB is even riskier than banking on WR
    because we already have an established Pro bowler..

    So that’s why I say Go big WR #1 double dip that deep talent at CB 2 and 3…that gives you a better chance of getting a starter at CB out of one of the two
    and potentially /simultaneously giving you a deadly threat for Ben to work with

  • Derick L Young

    never say never. DeCastro was “never” supposed to fall.

  • Doug Sawyer

    true… but Gilbert will be gone and I just don’t see us going after Dennard when we can get as good in later rounds

  • Derick L Young

    Such as who?

  • John A Stewart

    You cannot miss the playoffs 2 years in a row a not be put on notice good job Rooney family.

  • Doug Sawyer

    Fuller,Watkins, Joyner, Roberson …Hell, pound for pound Joyner is the best corner in the draft but his height hurts him

  • Doug Sawyer

    I’d like to see if Pittsburgh doesn’t give Gaines a hard look in the 4th or 5th round

  • Derick L Young

    if they can get Fuller or Joyner in the second then I would be fine with that.

  • Sabbie

    I believe not,

  • Doug Sawyer

    guys like Shaquille Richardson are not even projected to get drafted…that’s depth right off the board

  • Doug Sawyer

    steeler depot edited my link…look up Phillip Gaines Combine and 2012 pass break up video on Youtube

  • sean mcmartin

    Hopefully you mean Tomlin should be included.

  • Josh Knepshield

    According to further Joyner studies, he let up the most yards of any draftable corner last year in man coverage. No thank you.

  • Robert Loveless Reid

    The cap is goin to go up again next year supposedly…we’ll be well uder the higher cap number after extending Ben an taking care of worilds

  • pat

    Honestly I believe wr depth is just the same as cb depth in the draft my personal belief is we dont get either in 1st rd I think wr in 2nd (Matthews) cb in 3rd (Desir) and again in the 4th or 5th

  • pat

    I could see a team trading up with us if say Lewan or Ebron is there as I dont see us spending a 1st on either position its still to early to give up on our high oline draft picks

  • CuldesacBill

    Thanks Dave. The free-Agent pickups have added great depth to the team. Except for Mitchell, they all look to be backups. What it tells me is that they are really expecting increased production from their second-year players like Jarvis Jones and Markus Wheaton. I hope they come through.

  • Douglas Andrews

    Good catch Steel I stand corrected . That restructure saved them almost 4 mil in cap space.

  • george

    i agree unless Dennard or Gilbert arent available. In which case I think maybe a good move is to trade down and stack later round picks. Signong Mitchell was an enormous help.

  • Crazy Bone

    Hopefully Colbert is included. He never seems to get blamed for this roster (which is still 3rd best in the division…at best). I personally hope Colbert and Tomlin are let go after this year.

  • c t s

    With the off-season we’ve had so far with FA, if we can go ahead and get Dennard in the 1st and either Jordan Matthews or DeVante Adams in the second…..I might pee on myself. lol.

  • HardPunkKore

    I bet you were one of the few guys calling for Cowher’s head after he missed the playoffs in three straight years. We as fans are extremely spoiled. Chill out, we’ll be back in the hunt soon enough.

  • HardPunkKore

    I’m sick of the Benjamin isn’t worth the 1-15 pick non sense. Say he catches 40 balls for 500 yards with 10 tds. Thats pretty damn good production for a rookie.

    Some of you rely too much on combine numbers. The kid ran a 4.6 40 time. Go watch some tape, with pads on, he plays much much faster than the 40 time and he didn’t have much of a problem creating separation. Also, rest asured he wont line up in the 3 point sprinter stance on the football field. That will shave about a tenth off his time.

  • steelster

    I like Marquise lee a lot more. He is better in yards after the catch and we have Heath for the red zone.

  • matt

    I disagree with the logic that since the WR class is so deep this year that we can pick up comparable talent in the later rounds. The fact that the WR class is so deep only means that if you can get either Sammy Watkins, Odell Beckham jr., or Mike Evans that your getting truly elite talent, If either one of those WR or Ebron are available I don’t them drafting any CB. Justin Gilbert isn’t a willing tackler, the Steelers will not draft a CB who doesn’t play with physicality. The Steelers like to have 11 guys on defense who are willing and able tacklers regardless of the position. Kyle Fuller is very tough and a very willing tackler, he has good instincts and plays zone very well. But he might be a reach at 15 that’s why I see them taking Odell Beckham Jr. HE is fast, extremely agile, runs such smooth routes. and runs with such fluidity that he has an amazing realease. Unlike Mike Evans he can run the entire route tree, catches with his hands not his body, and can be a deadly returner. He has biiger hands then both Evans and Watkins and has some of the best hands in the draft maybe only behind Watkins.

  • steelster

    I think marquise lee is better than beckham.

  • Aric Brown

    So he puts that pads on a gets faster… and the fact that hes playing with 2 other good receivers has nothing to do with his seperation…. I’m not saying the kid doesnt have a shot to be great… but 1.15 is a little bit high for a teams 2nd leading receiver

  • Nolrog

    Before the draft, I think he’ll come to an agreement with Worilds on a 5 year deal that lowers his cap hit this year.

  • Nolrog

    Current speculation is the cap will go up another 7 million or so, to 140 next year, and 150 the year after. Was an article here not long ago talking about that very thing (not sure if I can link it here, but I’ll try, take out the spaces before and after the dots. )

    http://www . steelersdepot . com/2014/02/2015-nfl-salary-cap-number-already-projected-to-break-140-million/

  • Kevin Reich

    Yes, the NFL consensus that reports him having bad hands and runs a 4.6 forty. He is a late first round more likely a second round pick. At 15 I would want the best WR not the best tall Receiver left.

  • HardPunkKore

    I could care less about draft stock and who goes where, do we come out of the first round with a someone who can contribute day 1? With Benjamin, absolutely!

  • Doug Sawyer

    Kevin where is any credible report he has bad hands?…the only thing ever questioned was that he dropped some easy catches but that was largely seen as fixable …He is better than Evans and has the same speed

  • John A Stewart

    LOL no question Tomlin is always getting chew up while the GM setting back relaxing.

  • Doug Sawyer

    Benjamin is the top target on the National Title team …he is that good

  • Aric Brown

    the top target in the redzone… Rashad Greene had 22 more receptions and Kenny Shaw matched Benjamins receptions

  • Doug Sawyer

    right and Pittsburgh is not good in the Redzone #16…so you go out and fix that