Steelers Sign Free Agent DL Ricardo Mathews

The Pittsburgh Steelers have now signed another free agent as defensive lineman Ricardo Mathews has agreed to a one-year contract, according to the team.

Mathews, who was originally drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the seventh round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Cincinnati, played his last two seasons with the San Diego Chargers.

Last season, Mathews recorded 22 total tackles and a sack and started 7 games for the Chargers.

At his 2010 pro day, Mathews reportedly measured in at 6020, 290-pounds. However, he was listed on the Chargers official website last year at 300-pounds.

Mathews was more than likely signed by the Steelers in order to add depth on their defensive line. Should he make the Steelers final 53-man roster, he will likely be used as a reserve defensive end in the team’s base package and as a reserve interior pass-rusher in their nickel package.

While no details have been released yet, Mathews likely signed for the league minimum for his accrued years and if he did receive a signing bonus it likely wasn’t more than $80,000.

In related news, Dallas Cowboys free agent defensive lineman Jack Crawford visited with the Steelers on Thursday but reportedly left town unsigned.

  • STEELERS-FAN-IN-AZ

    Can’t wait for his breakdown

  • Daniel

    Sounds like another skate en scam thomas..same team too the chockers.

  • FATCAT716

    My first thought was Cam Thomas 2.0

  • WreckIess

    Not that I put too much thought into PFF rankings, but somehow this dude graded worse than Cam Thomas last season. If we’re getting him, but no Jack Crawford I’m not happy with today’s devlopments.

  • draframe1

    Oh boy. I know likely totally different players but can’t help thinking of the other SD castoff we signed

  • Daniel

    Would’ve preferred Jack Crawford man he was a rotational DL and got 4 sacks

  • RickM

    They’re not willing to make a D investment that could bring them another title. Jason Jones and Crawford, two guys who can legitimately give us proven depth on the D-line and who would not break the bank, come and go. Instead, we’ll sign a bunch of dregs and waste minimum salaries on them.

  • JM_3

    Crawford was only .4 ahead of this guy, but I agree. At least Crawford proved he could produce in a rotational role, this reeks of Cam Thomas 2.0

  • Zachary Wise

    Ok, so Heyward and Tuitt couldn’t get a breather this past season because we had very little depth, and the depth we did have was terrible (Cam Thomas). So we go out and sign someone who’s worse? How’s that make any sense?

  • Sdale

    22 Tackles and 1 sack in 7 starts…lighting the world on fire like Cam T. Hopefully the breakdown shows something in this guy. Why do we keep getting players from SD at an area of weakness?

  • dennisdoubleday

    At league minimum, instead of $2 million, though.

  • Steel B

    great signing……..not

  • FATCAT716

    My first thought was Cam Thomas 2.0

  • Spencer Krick

    If he can be not awful for a handful of snaps a game and signed for the vet min, I’ll call this a successful signing.

  • LucasY59

    that seems to be the only good thing IMO

  • PittsburghSports

    His pro day workout:

    Height: 6020
    Weight: 290
    40 Yrd Dash: 4.95
    20 Yrd Dash: 2.85
    10 Yrd Dash: 1.69
    225 Lb. Bench Reps: 26
    Vertical Jump: 31 1/2
    Broad Jump: 09’06”
    20 Yrd Shuttle: 4.51
    3-Cone Drill: 7.30

    Positives: Intriguing 3-4 defensive end or three-technique tackle. Penetrates gaps effectively on run and pass blitzes with good first step. Low center of gravity, stays low to change directions well in the backfield. Has a fair anchor when concentrating on staying his ground. Moves well while engaged inside. Excellent effort and good stamina throughout the game.

    Negatives: Marginal production until senior year. Seen as DT/DE ‘tweener by some scouts, a bit light to play inside right now and lacks quickness to play outside. Maybe best as 3-4 end. Not exceptional in any one area of his game. Could get off blocks more consistently, and can be moved laterally by linemen.

    –Chad Reuter

  • Frank Cordaro

    I don’t really know much about this guy plus its a one year deal, you never know but time will tell.

  • LucasY59

    I had just made a comment on the Scwhartz post that I was hoping the Steelers bring in a Vet DL to help with depth… This does not help, very unimpressed

  • Darth Blount 47

    Let’s not crucify the guy yet. It was probably for the minimum (it better have been!) and he is young and has decent measurables. But it sort of feels like a 3-4 DE type move and not a 4-2-5 so that makes me think he will be a camp guy and I still expect more help to come to the D-line. The Secondary is where I am quicker to want to roast this coaching staff if need be, because as we stand here today, for a team with Super Bowl aspirations, our secondary is rotting Swiss cheese.

  • steeltown

    Not much going on here, most likely signed for vet minimum, no guarantee he even makes the 53 and the signing has no implications on draft weekend.

  • Nolrog

    Lucy, I’m here. . . .

  • blackandgoldBullion

    I knew they would sign someone before the draft, even if it is a very low level guy. They just hate going into the draft desperate at any one position group. I feel the Steelers and Steeler Nation will be in the prayer room with this guy. Please, be good enough. Please!

  • PittsburghSports

    Here’s a quote from him…

    “I got a natural knack for getting off the ball fast, and can get in some weird positions and still make the play,” Mathews said. “I can hit somebody if I line them up and just wreck the whole offensive play up, period.”

  • Nolrog

    Because we need depth?

  • Darth Blount 47

    I’d rather that be a quote from the Chargers Coaching Staff, but yeah, sounds good… lol.

  • PittsburghSports

    We’ll it’s been awhile since his college days, but I read a scouting report that says he’s quick off the snap, so that at least matches.

  • Sdale

    What good is depth that can’t get on the field? Fat lot of good Cam Thomas did us.

  • Nolrog

    There’s a lot of people struggling to understand the definition of depth.

  • Daniel

    He’s not depth he’s below it

  • RickM

    Matthews played a good number of snaps with the Chargers, but according to a Chargers’ site he took a step backwards in 2015. Supposedly he graded out 6th on a line that has problems and he was the worst D- Line pass rusher on the team. Only one sack in over 500 snaps. But he’ll likely cost under $1 Million bucks.

    Alex of course will provide a true analysis and verified stats through his evaluation.

  • Jeremy McClurg

    They got a TE, and they have been looking really hard for DL depth and finally found some. It looks pretty clear that the Steelers didn’t want to draft a TE or defensive lineman high in this draft.

  • Darth Blount 47

    I think that is simply a product of 2 things. 1. People see who we have brought in and not signed instead. And 2. We all want to hear that name that makes us get that feeling down our leg. Ricardo Matthews doesn’t give you that feeling. Lol.

  • Daniel

    U mean to tell me that your going to be comfortable if tuitt or heyward get injured (knock on wood) for this guy to take over?

  • steeltown

    They could still potentially draft DL early, especially if there’s no DBs available. Pending contract details, this guy might not even make the 53man

  • Darth Blount 47

    Now don’t you go planting seeds in Colbert’s head that there aren’t any DB’s available for us at the top 3 rounds of this draft. Cuz there should be a multitude and I want one, dagnabbit!

  • RickM

    That was in 2009 (as you know). Based on 4 sacks in 6 NFL seasons it seems ti hasn’t worked out that he ‘will penetrate gaps effectively on the pass’. I’m not sure if the snap count is right, but supposedly he had over 500 snaps and only 1 sack in 2015.

  • steeltown

    They are not finished building this roster, much less the offseason roster. As mentioned, there’s no guarantee this guy even makes the 53, right now he’s purely experienced depth for camp.

  • Daniel

    Lol

  • Frank Cordaro

    I don’t know much about this guy so Im going to wait for the breakdown plus it a one year deal and the team will draft a few DL and majority D.

  • PittsburghSports

    Well we do need whipping boy depth this year too.

  • Daniel

    Same thing was said on scam thomas and what do you know he cracked the roster. I do not know how.

  • 2020_Vision

    Last year, He drove DeCastro backwards like he was on skates and sacked Vick!!!

  • Daniel

    I understand your comment but don’t you think it’s better to bring in actual players that have proven themselves that are capable to producing or are on the rise at least.

  • James Rogers

    Cam Thomas, Jr…but worse.

  • steeltown

    If I remember right, he was given a 2yr $4MIL deal, this guy, should he fail to impress should be an easier cut

  • CP72

    Well at least he’s confident.

  • STEELERS-FAN-IN-AZ

    Check him out on YouTube it’s a get to know you video .game time Ricardo Mathews

  • Frank Cordaro

    What “BIG” investment do you want the Steelers to make with 2.9M but round that to 3M in cap space…I agree J.Jones and Crawford would have been better but thats their mistake and how many DL do you think the team will draft

  • John Mazza

    why not just keep Cam then? hopefully he is better or younger. just a bit cheaper. i hope this means they like Walton

  • NinjaMountie

    Holy Crud, why aren’t we signing pro bowl talent to backup the pro bowl talent we have backing up our starters!!! smh

  • Zachary Wise

    It would be nice to have competent back ups, not guys that are the absolute worse at the position. The dropoff is so bad at DL, we don’t take the starters off the field. I could only imagine if someone gets hurt. Then we have to start guys like Cam Thomas.

  • RickM

    The should ditch some under-performing players or re-structure some contracts. It isn’t rocket science to find the money necessary for a solid depth player. As for the draft, how many D draft choices do we have to see before we realize that virtually none can provide a game-in, game out contribution right off the hop. Even Heyward and Tuitt, two superior linemen, couldn’t step in and immediately provide a decent snap count.

  • RMSteeler

    Hopefully, he’s just a temp slot filler. Better, affordable will be available later after some cuts. With strong, deep DL class in the draft this year, I’m hoping for a projected 4th rounder to drop to one of the 7th round picks.

  • Steel Your Face

    I’d take a sack or two from this guy, for 2016 right now!

  • Daniel

    Looked em up on YouTube and it said “Error”

  • RickM

    Man, did you ever nail it with the word “dropoff”.

  • RickM

    Agree, lol. He can’t be that bad, I hope.

  • Steel Your Face

    I just typed Ricardo Mathews game time and it worked. 🙂

  • Doug McFee

    Big body with experience. We need bodies at this point. I’m convinced Steelers draft a DL 1st round.

  • Steel Your Face

    Looks a whole lot like McLendon to me.

  • Floyd Maximus

    this is why i don’t think we will see another superbowl for a while. and it makes me very upset. look at how the pats work the free agent market and resolved their keep 2 out of 3 (chandler jones, hightower, or collins) situation. You cant solve your teams immediate issues through the draft because rookies almost always need to develop. Free agents adjusting to new system progress a lot quicker and can contribute immediately

  • Daniel

    I’m just messing I did find that video only one tho;)

  • Doug McFee

    DL/DE-OLB/CB/SS in that order.

  • RickM

    I hate their franchise, but yes they take chances and are often rewarded. They make mistakes as well, but when they do they ditch them quickly. Belichick demands performance on the field or you’re gone. Their QB turns 39 this year, but with their re-built D they’re unfortunately still be a threat to win it all.

  • TJenks048 .

    6’2″

  • ATL96STEELER

    I don’t care much for this signing, but clearly the Steelers were looking for depth on a budget….on paper they got the least productive guy….they chose to put the FA money into their own guys and a TE.

    NE…obviously they are a good model, but right now I like the Steelers roster better in terms getting to the SB this coming season.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    Because the guy most likely to spell Heyward and Tuitt will be acquired via the draft. It’s a deep class for defensive linemen, and the Steelers know it. Why pay bigger money for a middle-of-the-pack free agent when you can have (potentially) a future Steeler for years at the current rookie rate?

  • Arthur Branch

    Simple Salary cap.

  • Pricopea

    With this signing, they definitely would need to draft Billings!

  • Arthur Branch

    This guy started 7 games last year while our coaches refused to give the dline starters a breather. Which of our backups from last year will stop him from making the team?

  • Tom Jackson

    Man I was really hoping for Jack Crawford to sign. He would’ve made a ton of sence IMO. But the steelers seem to be in for the market for just minimum vet FA which is disappoinitng considering they paid Cam Thomas 4 mil in the last 2 years.

  • Michael James

    I think he will battle it out with Walton and Lyons for a spot on the final 53. But I’m actually happy we finally found someone for depth. Best of luck Ricardo!

  • steeltown

    Valid point. But, McCullers, Walton and a high draft selection potentially could..

  • NinjaMountie

    This is a journeyman depth signing. We can’t have money players at every backup position. We’re going to draft DL at some point.
    It’s too early to get worried about the roster. I’m willing to wait and see what it looks like when it’s all done. I’m also not looking at having a defense like we used to have either. I’m hoping for some small personnel improvements and scheme changes that move us into the top 15. Have to be realistic.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    But to me if he’s no better than cam Thomas wouldn’t that mean exactly that? They’re desperate making desperate moves

  • PapaJuju

    Yo, I think they have some faith in Walton and Lyons.

  • Consistent

    I agree. Plus whoever they draft…this guy may not see the field much

  • RickM

    Not going to get into it. It’s the same old story. There was a tremendous belief that the Steelers simply had to get better depth on the D-line. Just to give Heyward and Tuitt a rest, and even worse should they be injured.

    But they pass on $3 Million/year players and sign journeymen and some say it’s perfectly fine. As for relying on the draft, Tuitt had all of 11 tackles in his first year and Heyward had 10. They are well above-average football players, yet their 1st year contribution was minimal. We’ll just agree to disagree on this one as you’ll never convince me that they shouldn’t be seeking better depth, or that they can’t re-structure some things to allow one decent signing D-line depth signing to address a critical need. I respect that you see it otherwise. The fact that Ben has limited time left makes the need even greater.

  • 2020_Vision

    He’s here for DEPTH, nothing more…anything extra is a BONUS!

  • Floyd Maximus

    I’d rather them sign a fan to play as depth than the worst DL from a team with a notoriously bad DL because they are not improving depth by signing someone who can’t play. At least my strategy would make dreams come true 😉

  • Labrat0116

    MONEY !

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Rick-

    To be fair, the Steelers have invested more picks on our front 7 than just about any other team in the NFL.

    Jarvis Jones (1st rounder)
    Cam Heyward (1st rounder)
    Stephon Tuitt (should’ve been a 1st rounder)
    Bud Dupree (1st rounder)

    Plus we send Timmons and Shazier on stunt blitzes all the time to get more QB pressure (both 1st rounders). How many more 1st rounders do you want on our front 7?

    I’m not saying we’ve “hit” on all of our picks there. But at least we’ve tried to fortify those spots. And I’m not saying we don’t need quality depth at these positions. We absolutely do. But it’s not like we’ve “neglected” DL. We’ve used two 1st round picks on edge rushers and a 1st and a 2nd on our DT’s.

    Meanwhile, we have absolutely neglected the entire DB phase of our defense. Imagine if we would’ve used two 1st round picks on two CB’s and then used a 1st and a 2nd on our two safety spots and then you were asking for more early round picks on DB depth? Fans would be in an uproar. Just something to think about.

  • Orlysteel

    The time to hesitate is through no time to wallow in the mire, the only hope for them is the waiver wire.

  • ATL96STEELER

    We’re singing off the same sheet paper on the signing…if you’re going to plug the spot, do it with somebody that can play…we’ve already seen that with C. Thomas which is why no is excited about Mathews.

    idk what the difference in contract needs were with Crawford, but clearly it was more than PIT wanted to or could pay.

    I don’t think this move will be the one that keeps them from winning the SB though.

  • CodeNameJerk

    warm body

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    On a side note, I’m pretty sure the Steelers will be drafting a quality DL somewhere in the first three rounds this year. Probably in the first two rounds.

    All of these “scrubs” they’re signing now are pure insurance. They probably won’t even make the team. Next year’s depth chart:

    RIGHT EDGE: Jarvis + Harrison + Chickillo
    LEFT EDGE: Dupree + Moats
    RIGHT DT: Heyward + rookie
    LEFT DT: Tuitt + Walton + McCullers

    There’s really only one void there DT. And we’ll fill that early in the draft.

  • Frank Cordaro

    Yea your right they can restructure Timmons or Big Ben and what June 1 cut for C. Allen but don’t know why and In regards to the draft and DL depth I can see one in the 1st four picks(e.x Reed,Billings) and maybe in sixth or seventh. Now for the contributions of young players you spoke of, I love LeBeau as DC but thats my issue with his D, it takes so long to develop and see progress growth, I saw and article years ago with Keisel, Kimo it took him 3 years to learn and another 3 to feel comfortable, as you read as well probably Bulter tried to simplify the playbook and if things go right that may help everyone hopefully. And for ladder I didn’t suggest anything I wanted to know what BIG was in your opinion and have a dialogue.

  • Rye Stye

    Maybe if we paid our star QB 9 mil instead of 20 we could have some more DL talent. I think people overlook what a huge deal it is that Brady has accepted a smaller salary to help the team win. I have to respect him for that.

  • Frank Cordaro

    I agree with you on what you said, I would of like to see J. Jones come and signed but I read some other article there were good things wrote about him but someone said He’s Cam Thomas 2.0 (lol)

  • connfyoozed .

    Ricardo Matthews has nothing to do with Cam Thomas other than they both came to us from the Chargers. Thomas had much more starting experience and we paid him a lot more, and thus expected much more than he got (and note that Cam is still a free agent.
    Matthews has almost exclusively been a backup in his career, and only started last year because of a lot of injuries. He also had an awful Charger defense around him. Matthews is not close to the fat tub of lard Thomas was physically. Finally, and perhaps most important, Matthews had a poor 2015 but an excellent 2014 in San Diego. He was signed for what was expected to be only a couple of games, but ended up staying for another season and a half.
    Matthews is a camp body with possible upside. Thomas was signed to possibly be a starter. Not at all similar circumstances.

  • RickM

    Hi Star. This article and the Jones and Crawford articles are about FA investments; so that’s what I’m referring to not the draft. For 2 years running now they have not made a meaningful D-line depth addition in FA. This hurt us last year as Heyward and Tuitt had to play too many snaps and they weren’t as effective later in games. Now we’ve lost probably our best depth player in McLendon and again they have done nothing of any significance.

    As for expecting/guaranteeing that drafted D-linemen will make a big-time contribution in their first year, I honestly can’t remember the last time that happened. Tuitt started several games, but that’s about it. What if they miss on their D-line picks? What if Heyward or Tuitt gets hurt? Signing either Jones or Crawford for around $3 Million a season will look awfully good at that time. I get that they didn’t splurge on a safety for $5 M to $6 Million a year. But relying on journeymen D-linemen and draft choices that may or may not work out given McLendon’s departure? That’s just a major risk in my books and an unnecessary one.

  • RickM

    They need more than one 🙂 They already needed one before McLendon left.

    Not re-signing Woods. Signing Cam Thomas. Letting Mauro be plucked off the Practise Squad. Signing Geathers and Lyons and not having either one capable of playing a down. Maybe there is an end point for the mismanagement of depth on the D-line. But frankly I’m beginning to wonder when it is.

  • IndianaCarson

    I like your sense of humor but alas, some people don’t see it that way.

  • Mark 4 Steelers

    I think you can virtually guarantee the Steelers will take a DL guy in the draft. The only debate will be which round. I personally think if Billings is there at 25, they should grab him. Fortifying the secondary begins with the pass rush & the Steelers haven’t had a good pass rush since Hampton left. NT is a big position of need.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    I’m prAying he’s better than that.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    Lol let us all bow our heads

  • We are Deal with it

  • Craig M

    Well said.

  • RickM

    Lol. I’m not suggesting we should have signed him, but N.E. just signed Knighton on a one-year deal for $4.5 M. They know Brady is older, time is brief and they pull the trigger on proven D quality trying for a ring or two before he retires.

  • Steeler-Drew

    Didn’t Tomlin say last year if we had better players he would have given Tuitt and Heyward more of a rest. Not sure how that’s going to happen with this signing and planning on drafting one. If that’s the plan from here on out they are taking a huge risk if either one gets injured. Many seem to be banking on a rookie making an impact but forget C. Thomas took a significant amount of snaps away from Tuitt for about 10 games. Bottom line is there should be no banking on production from rookies and bottom of the barrel league minimum players. And I agree they need two of quality not just one especially since they showed very little confidence in McCullers last year. Signing a Jones or Crawford and drafting one early probably would have been suffice. But this approach is doomed for failure if Tuitt or Hayward gets injured.

  • Jonny Panic

    Captain hindsight

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Good points, Rick. Quick question for you… What defensive scheme do you consider to be the Steelers’ primary front?

    Because I think we’re basically a 4-3 team now. I know the coaches won’t say that to the media, but we run so many plays with Harrison and Dupree on the edges, and Heyward and Tuitt in the middle, I think that’s what Tomlin and Butler prefer to do.

    The reason that is important is because it changes the depth issue that you’ve discussed. In the past we ran a traditional 3-4 so we would keep 6 DL (2 NT + 4 DE). We now have 2 young back up DT’s (McCullers 6’7″ 340) (Walton 6’5″ 320), who could play NT in a 3-4 run set. But I promise you the coaches want both of them to be “flexible” back ups who could also play DT in a 4-3 pass set (and maybe Walton could play back up DE in 3-4 front as well).

    I say this because, in the coaches’ minds, if we are playing a 3-4 then yes we need TWO DE’s to back up Tuitt and Heyward. But if we’re running a 4-3 then both of those guys are our two primary back ups at DT, and it’s not as big of a priority. Our bigger priority would then be an edge rusher behind Dupree and Jarvis/Harrison. Which is kind of who the coaches have been scouting/interviewing (Spence, Calhoun, Nassib, Lawson).

    Does that make sense? Not sure if I explained it well?

  • Joseph Duffy

    Yes he will and if he doesn’t win the job he will be cut. Nothing lost. Some here act like we spent a lot of money on him. A lot of it has to do with him being from San Diego.

  • RickM

    That’s a good point about Tomlin’s comment. I think that’s what missed sometimes. “Good depth” is more than just players who can come on the field to give your front-liners a rest. It’s having guys that you feel can produce results on their own. They’re never going to play at the level of your stars, but you hope that they won’t allow the opposition to take too much advantage of you. Tomlin clearly didn’t feel that he had such players last year, hence the high snap count for the two stars. As for rookie production, I agree that you be optimistic but realistic and not bank on it as the immediate ‘answer’ to the depth issues.

  • RickM

    You explained it very well, and it’s an excellent point. If we had one decent D-line back-up player I’d feel that maybe only one player was necessary. But I think we’re kidding ourselves a little if we feel that any one of our back-up players right now are good depth players. I’m not sure that any of them would make the roster of a number of other good NFL teams. We had a proven one in McLendon, but of course he’s gone. So I still think they need a couple in terms of ability and in case of injury. Drew made a good comment further up that Tomlin himself said he would have given Heyward and Tuitt more rest if he had better (that’s the key word) depth. And our depth is actually down one player from when he made that statement.

    As for the edge rusher, I would love one if a good one was available. Certainly the argument that he would have far more snaps than a D-lineman, should the pick work out is spot-on. Do you think they will be?

  • RickM

    Thanks for the enlightening, fact-based rebuttal.