Steelers Have Been Both Proactive And Reactionary So Far During Free Agency

With the second week of free agency now about to begin, many of you have posted that the Pittsburgh Steelers have seemed to be more reactionary than proactive so far this offseason. While that seems to be true over the course of this past weekend, let us not forget that they really have been proactive as well.

The signing of former Carolina Panthers safety Mike Mitchell on day one of free agency is about as proactive as a team can be. The Steelers knew they had a hole to fill and they filled it. In addition, they also re-signed safety Will Allen, long snapper Greg Warren and center/guard Cody Wallace right at the start as well.

Now, was the signing last week of former San Diego Chargers nose tackle Cam Thomas reactionary or proactive? While many of us thought it was a slam dunk that Al Woods would be back, he’s now gone. We will never know for sure if the Steelers really wanted him back or if Woods thought the Tennessee Titans were going to give him a better opportunity. At least they didn’t waste any time in filling his spot. They clearly had Thomas as a name circled that they were interested in adding and they made that happen very fast.

The Steelers also have been proactive in other areas, even though they don’t have signings yet to show for it. They brought in Buffalo Bills defensive end Alex Carrington in for a visit and for all we know, he has a standing offer in his back pocket should his visits with the Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams not go well this week.

In addition to Carrington, it was also reported last week that the Steelers had interest in Green Bay Packers linebacker Mike Neal, prior to him re-signing. That was definitely a proactive move and one nobody saw that coming, if indeed true.

Heading into this week, the Steelers have visits scheduled with Packers running back James Starks and New Orleans Saints wide receiver Lance Moore, and yes, these appear to reactionary moves. They obviously wanted to re-sign running back Jonathan Dwyer, according to what he recently told me, but being as he saw a better opportunity with the Arizona Cardinals, they have no choice but to look elsewhere for a suitable replacement.

As far as Moore goes, his visit is likely a result of wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery planning to visit the Carolina Panthers this week. I’m sure the Steelers want Cotchery back, but they have to be prepared should he sign elsewhere.

I think team president Art Rooney II put it best when looking ahead to free agency when he was at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine several weeks ago.

“I would say it’s kind of like putting a jigsaw puzzle together,” Rooney said. “The only difference is the size of the pieces can change on you from one day to the next. It is a little complicated. I think we have enough options that we’ll get done what we need to get done.”

The Steelers weren’t going to add many outside free agents this offseason to start with, as they mostly try to re-sign their own. However, when a few of those players they want to keep go elsewhere, they have no choice, but to find pieces of the puzzle elsewhere. In a perfect world, they would just throw plenty of money at the players they want to keep, but we all know they don’t work like that. They have a budget to work with and must stay within it. That budget sometimes results in moves being reactionary.

  • Matt Manzo

    I thought we would sign two solid FAs, and I think that Mitchell and Thomas are those. Looks like we’ll sign a DE too and that’s a bonus FA as far as I’m concerned! 3 free agents that will see playing time is as big as it gets for us.
    We can save judgement for training camp.


    I just want to avoid the feeling that we are replacing our mediocre talent with someone else’s mediocre talent.

  • grw1960

    Actually I have been pleasantly surprised with the quality and quantity of FA they have been bringing in to try to sign.
    Most years they are mostly camp bodies, with hope they will emerge into back up types for roster depth

  • steeltown

    We went 8-8 two yrs in a row.. not only is not uncommon to lose a few players and have some roster turn over, but in most cases its imperative

  • srdan

    To top that off, i think our new young core started coming together to finish 8-4. We didn’t lose anyone from our young core of guys.

  • srdan

    Matt, I agree with you. Many fans are under the impression that we win superbowls in March. We seldom win on talent, we win as a team. With that said, a team needs mismatches to win, and I think we have some pieces in place Cam, Bell, BR, AB, Worldis.

  • srdan

    The way I see it, they are replacing the peripheral guys, aiming to upgrade and get younger. Not a bad strategy.

  • srdan

    What this team really lacked the last two years was some tenacity. I thought last years class and signings added a lot of it, and quickly. Williams and Cam added flavor to the defense that desperately lacked it. Mitchel seems to be cut from the same cloth. I think the trade up to get Shark is another sign of the team targeting good guys with an edge. On the offensive side AB coming into his own helped a lot.

    The line was playing well by teh end of the season. THe addition of Wallace really helped the line. I really hope that Munchak can bring out the nasty out of Decastro, Pouncey and the tackles (whomever it may be). This team is in the infancy of having the feeling of a Rooney’s team again. I’ll be the first to admit that we lacked an edge that is a signature of teams that win the way we want to see the team win.

    A win is a win, I’ll take them as they come. But losses I don’t mind if I see a team that plays together, hits hard and plays through the whistle. And I know the other team will be in the ice bath until wednesday. I’ll take those losses. But they will be few.

    Hopefully they keep adding some tenacity to the defense, I think Dennard fits the mold.

  • Paddy

    When you finish 8-8 again, that’s not good. Yeah they won some games in the second half but against inferior competition. If they could get to a strong 9-7 this season that would be a plus

  • Steeler Fanatic

    I think the team has to simply deal with today’s NFL. Teams like the Browns and Raiders have cap space because they’ve been so horrible over the years, giving them a financial advantage come free agency.The other thing is that Colbert and co. have mostly drafted in the mid-20s or lower every round of his tenure. That puts them at another disadvantage. I think you are now seeing the changes that will mold the future steelers (Bell, DeCastro, Mitchell, Jones, Worilds). It will take time, which is tough after two 8-8 seasons. My concern is that Ben is getting older when the team is getting younger. Can he stay healthy for the remainder of the contract?

  • Melly

    I love my Steelers and I know you don’t win in March, but COME ON! The Dwyer, Woods, and Cotchery “safety” nets are not there. We are looking, at best, Carrington as one of our DEs…if not a rookie or Keisel! At WR, at best, its gonna be Wheaton(who could not stay healthy) and Cotch! But realistically its lookin like Wheaton, a L.Moore type, Moye, and a rookie as our 2,3,4 WRs.
    Even if we land Gilbert, Dennard, or Mosley in the draft…they are not gonna play much! There still is the MLB issue w/ V.Williams and maybe Spence?! I believe they still need an OT.
    Den, Indy, and NE are reloading on both side of the ball. I don’t know what PITT is doing? We are not gonna scare many teams offensively! Not w/ what we currently have and how much rookies normally contribute!!!!!! SMH

  • StrengthOfVictory

    Keep in mind that all these moves are being made BEFORE THE DRAFT. The team is not going to look like anything close to a complete picture without at least the first three or four picks in the draft in place. Not to mention, FA isn’t over yet.

    So far, have the Steelers lost anyone they can’t do without? Woods was a nice luxury to have, Sanders has been a (less than stellar) rental since last season, David Johnson had his job taken by Will, Ziggy never quite fit in here, Woodley was underachieving big time (and had nagging health issues), Clark lost a major step, and Dwyer was always going to be a not-quite-good-enough backup guy.

    Cotch would be the first player, if they lose him, that I’d be upset about.

  • 20Stoney

    I don’t want to replace our mediocre talent with lesser talent.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    I will take the growing pains while building a team that could dominate for years once they get it all together. I do not expect this process to take years. Some teams go worst to first in 1 year. Somewhere in the middle is fine with me. Thank God they’re getting younger.

  • Matt Manzo

    Yep! Add a CB(or 2), a LB and a DE and we should be ready to compete!

  • Brendon Glad

    The Steelers do a tremendous job being proactive vs. reactive….hey…sometimes things don’t fall like you see them. I know in my heart, that they thought they would get Woods back….and I know in my heart that they think they will get Cotchery back…as a guy who liked Woods, I was not happy to see him go….as a guy who LOVES Cotchery, and happened to watch quite a few Panthers games last year as well….let’s just say I’m not happy with this development. Their drastic need at that position may put him in a range where the Steelers have to “gulp”….let him walk….and hope Wheaton is what his teammates say he is….but I’m pretty sure they were planning for Cotchery to be an “easy sign”…thus when Sanders walked it would be a “zero-stress-circumstance” . So it’s not an ideal circumstance right now.

  • Brendon Glad

    Yep, as is usual, the Steelers have stuck to their formula. And it’s a good formula that breeds respect…and usually contention. I don’t think owners need to give ridiculous “reward-contracts” to players for doing good things…but I do love that the Steelers always pay their players proper financial respect, and always show greater loyalty to “Steeler achievers” than most teams do. Sometimes when it’s time to move on though, then it’s time. And I like that the Steelers ownership and the Steelers Nation always does it with a handshake, respect, and best wishes…as they move on. That’s why the Franco Harris’s, Woodsons, Porters, Harrison’s, Willie Parkers, (not comparing them…just names off top-of-head as guys who the Steelers decided to let walk)…still always consider themselves Steelers.I like that. It’s called class…and the Steelers have THAT in spades.