The Steelers offseason has been a relatively quiet one so far regarding bringing in any new free agents but they have taken care of business, for the most part, in the realm of retaining their own guys.
They extended Antonio Brown for five years and nearly 17 million dollars per season. As nice is it is to have Brown locked up for 5 more seasons, the annual salary is far too high. Yes, he’s a great receiver, but he’s far better when Big Ben is throwing to him than any other quarterback. While Ben has said he’ll be back next season, it’s obvious he will not be here at the end of Brown’s contract and Brown will be far overpaid at that point. I don’t see Brown finishing out this deal nor do I see it working out for the Steelers long term.
The black and gold also put the franchise tag on LeVeon Bell. They had to make that move but the key will be keeping him long term. It’s hard to say what he’ll want to sign a long term deal but I’d much rather overpay for him, a man who can get 30 touches a game than a guy like Brown who will max out at 10 touches and more likely average around seven touches per game. While both are impactful, Bell is the more important player, he must be taken care of long term, soon.
Bringing back James Harrison for two more seasons was a coup as he is a leader and was arguably the team’s best linebacker in 2016. In addition to bringing back Harrison, the team re-signed long snapper Greg Warren and tight end David Johnson, both good signings as both men provide good depth to the roster.
Maybe the most notable move of all, or at least the most controversial, was the re-signing of quarterback Landry Jones. I think it was a very well thought out move as Jones is, to me, a quality back up, one who knows the offense and a guy who despite what many fans think, has actually had some success. This move was also made when it was still undermined if Ben would return.
The team did release cornerback Justin Gilbert after just having traded for him last off season. It’s a bit of a mystery that they have done this two years in a row, having traded a draft pick in 2015 for Brandon Boykin and then 2016 for Gilbert and releasing both guys after one failed season. It makes you wonder what the team was thinking in those situations.
More disappointing than that though, is the loss of Lawrence Timmons, who signed with the Dolphins. Timmons has never played for anyone else and has consistently been the teams’ leading tackler, I thought for sure the black and gold would strike a deal with the longtime Steelers but he opted to leave and the team didn’t fight him on his decision. I think Vince Williams will step in nicely and the Steelers seemingly agree but I’d prefer Timmons.
The black and gold did find a few players from the outside to add to the roster, most notably wide receiver Justin Hunter. You might not think the team needs a wide receiver but after that loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game, it became clear that they do. Couple that with the fact that Martavis Bryant has yet to be reinstated and it was a necessary move.
Pittsburgh still has the draft to take care of business, and they must find that second corner to go along with Artie Burns. They’ll need to grab another linebacker, possibly another safety, a running back to back up Bell and in all likelihood a quarterback.
We’ll see what happens in a few weeks but it will be far less quiet than the first month of free agency has been, that’s a guarantee.
Mike Pelaia hosts the website Steel Nation Association http://www.steelnationassociation.com– Covering the Steelers and helping Children’s Hospital All Day Everyday. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.