Recapping The Steelers’ Uncharacteristic Madness Of March

The Pittsburgh Steelers have often found themselves busy in March in recent years, but that has generally come before the start of the new league year, just to get in cap compliance. This year was a bit different, as the team was able to actually add some pieces from other teams, including a new starter at safety.

But, naturally, there was some house cleaning to take care of first before the March Madness could begin. In order to get cap compliant, the Steelers did release three players: Levi Brown, Curtis Brown, and Larry Foote. Foote is, of course, the significant departure of the bunch in terms of on-field contributions, but the bulk of the savings came from Levi Brown, who never played a down for the Steelers.

In addition to the small handful of terminations, the Steelers also worked out two-year cap-friendly extensions with tight end Heath Miller and safety Troy Polamalu, virtually assuring that they will retire in Pittsburgh, all the while helping ease the cap burden for this season.

The last big chunk of savings came courtesy of cornerback Ike Taylor, who agreed to a $4.25 million pay cut from his $7 million base salary. That allowed the team to fit in the big fish of their offseason plans, the transition tag applied to free-agent-to-be outside linebacker Jason Worilds, worth close to $10 million.

No doubt, retaining his rights was the cornerstone of their March Madness operations, which allowed them to part ways with LaMarr Woodley. As a post-June 1 release, his cap relief won’t come for another couple months, but it allowed the Steelers to spend virtually to the last drop in March.

They began, unsurprisingly, by filling some of their own holes, re-signing safety Will Allen, long snapper Greg Warren, tight end Michael Palmer, and offensive linemen Guy Whimper and Cody Wallace.

In contrast to recent years, however, the Steelers were able to add a number of pieces from outside the organization, though some were in response to moves they were unable to make internally.

The failure to match the two-year, $5 million offer that Jerricho Cotchery got, for example, prompted the Steelers to strike a deal with Lance Moore at a more cost-efficient rate. Likewise, with the departures of Ziggy Hood and Al Woods, the Steelers added Cam Thomas at two years, $4 million—less than Woods’ contract.

The big outside free agent signing, of course, was new free safety Mike Mitchell, who is expected to take the place of Ryan Clark after eight years of service. His five-year, $25 million contract came just hours into the beginning of free agency, with other teams in the hunt for his services, and generally took everybody by surprise.

Toward the tail end of the month, the Steelers continued to plumb the depths of the free agency market to shore up depth, adding the versatile inside-outside linebacker Arthur Moats and, most recently, finding a complement to Le’Veon Bell to replace Jonathan Dwyer, adding LeGarrette Blount to a two-year deal worth upwards of $4 million.

Now that April is upon us, however, the focus for most of the league is assuredly shifting toward the draft, which even though it no longer takes place in that month is still the next major benchmark of the offseason. The Steelers had a very productive March, however, which sets them up well for what’s coming up next.

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

    19-0, Baby!

  • steeltown

    Really solid moves all around. The acquisitions and re-signings will really allow the draft to come to them so the speak. Added depth at LB and RB will surely be addressed at the backend of the draft, while CB, DL and WR can be the primarily focus throughout.

  • chris ward

    Thought the Steelers made some really nice moves during a busy March, hopefully the progress will carry over into the draft.

  • PA2AK

    Yup, and add the fact that those moves were largely ‘future conscious’. Not sure how any fan (that has been paying attention) could be disappointed with things so far. Well, I guess they might not have the thorough info and analysis of Dave et. al. on this site!

  • AzheDraven

    Hope we never have to go on a shopping spree like the raiders have done this year. They have signed like… 10 or more FA I believe.

  • AndyR34

    This is exactly what the FO tries to accomplish in FA…put themselves in a position where they do not HAVE to draft any specific position based upon need. Even the visit from the Texan’s DB is predicated upon that MO. As you said steeltown…this lets them sit and take BPA within their own criteria. They virtually always take a DL, OL, WR, DB, and LB…I suspect they will again this year!

  • Steeler Fanatic

    The team gave their aging/injured players one additional year after 8-8, then it happened again- so they took action. What I like about the FO is that they put themselves into a position where they don’t HAVE to draft a specific position- they have needs, but not always musts. I still have a tough time drafting a corner or wideout in the first round… only because of our style of play and draft success of Brown, Wallace, etc. I still think they would love to head up (unlikely) to draft Mack or consider Lewan- only because of guaranteed value.

  • cencalsteeler

    Given the cap constraints the Steelers were faced with, Colbert and co. have done an excellent job so far. They have made the right moves to set themselves up nicely for the draft. Every move has been an upgrade to the position or a cost savings on the books. A+

  • shawn

    Rose Color glasses eh ??

  • shawn

    I can’t exactly agree … there have been some good moves but plenty of bad ones as well … lets be honest although it has been quite an active FA for the team it has been mediocre as well … not inspiring on any level!!

    1. Mitchell … good signing but overpaid
    2. Blount – Best signing … but once again overpaid
    3. Guy Whimper – not a good signing, not indicative of teams on the rise
    4. Will Allen – see above
    5. Lance Moore -ok signing … should have kept Cotch & paid the diff
    6. Cam Thomas – bad signing – should kept Woods paid the diff
    7. Palmer – Worthless signing

    These are not moves that take an 8-8 team to the promised land … hopefully our Draft performance pans out much better !

  • steeltown

    It’s the offseason, so they are building an offseason roster, C.Wallace, W.Allen, Palmer, Warren and Whimper are depth signings with little or no cap ramifications. The implications of the Cam Thomas signing remain to be seen. Mitchell, Moore and Blount are solid acquisitions at positions that needed to be addressed. It’s easy to sit here and say we should’ve kept a certain player, but we don’t know all the inner workings especially regarding the players decision to move on, they are ‘Free’ agents meaning they are free to sign anywhere. Sometimes its out of our control. We made some very sound moves financially and schematically based on what we had to work with and the opportunities presented to us

  • walter mason

    I give an optimistic B+

  • jim warman

    R u just trollin. Or r u actualy a fan.uve been negative about everything. The mitchell contract was a good deal cap wise and blount signing could end up teal good if bell fails this year and he has to step in and produce. Go complakn somewhere else or be a browns fan.

  • kamil

    This doesnt make sense, the mitchelk signing is cap friendly with not alot of gauranteed money, cotchery choose Carolina and woods went begind the back of the team abd signed of contract without negotiating with us.

  • shawn

    who are u again … (1 Comment) oh now i get it … u need to learn how the site works before u spew out nonsense … i call it like i see it … if u want only happy smoke blown up ur behind … then pass on my comments and look elsewhere !