New Flash! Troy and Reed are 2 of the best safeties in NFL history and are both 1st ballot HOFers. The NFL **MIGHT** see a guy like that every 10-20 years... they don't grow on trees. People make it sound like they get drafted every other year. If that is people's draft expectation then every 1st rounder will be labelled a bust.
1 Mike Evans WR Texas A&M
2 Stephen Tuitt DE Notre Dame
3c Keith McGill CB Utah
4 Ross Cockrell CB Duke
5 Jordan Zumwalt ILB UCLA
5c Anton Exum S Va Tech
6 Trey Millard FB/TE Oklahoma
7 Cody Latimer WR Indiana
7c DeAnthony Thomas RB Oregon
Steelers bank on Mitchell to help secondary
March, 11, 2014
By Scott Brown | ESPN.com
Mike Mitchell will replace Ryan Clark in Pittsburgh's secondary.
PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers made an earlier-than-usual foray into free agency.
In the process they got younger and faster in the secondary and found a new running mate for Troy Polamalu on the back end of their defense.
The signing of Mike Mitchell -- the former Panthers safety agreed to a five-year, $25 million contract per ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter -- confirms that the Steelers werenít just willing to address their defensive backfield through the draft.
Mitchell, who turns 27 in June, fits the profile of the defensive backs that the Steelers had inquired about prior to the start of free agency. He is young but has starting experience and will help the Steelers immediately, something they are loathe to expect out of rookies.
Mitchell spent his first four seasons with the Raiders but came into his own after signing a one-year deal with the Panthers last year. Starting on a regular basis for the first time in his career, Mitchell recorded 66 tackles while intercepting four passes and forcing a pair of fumbles in 15 games.
The 6-foot, 215-pounder will take over at free safety for Ryan Clark, and the Steelers hope they get a return from Mitchell similar to what they received from Clark after signing him to a four-year, $7 million contract in 2006.
Clark started eight seasons after signing with the Steelers as an unrestricted free agent, and he and Polamalu became close friends and played as well off one another as any safety tandem in the NFL before age starting catching up with the duo.
The Mitchell signing drops the curtain on Clarkís Steelers career though he said on ESPNís "NFL Live" on Tuesday that he intends to keep playing.
It is also the latest move that will shape the Steelersí secondary in 2014 and the first one that should provide stability beyond next season.
The Steelers had previously re-signed Polamalu to a three-year contract and restructured cornerback Ike Taylor's contact with the 11th-year veteran accepting a $4.5 million pay cut.
Taylorís new deal put the Steelers around $7 million under the salary cap, allowing them to sign the biggest free agent from a financial standpoint since Mike Tomlin took over as head coach in 2007.
The Steelers generally wait until after the frenzied first wave of free agency before going shopping.
They have made exceptions as far as pursuing higher-profile free agents, and the Steelers hit pay dirt in the early 2000s when they signed center Jeff Hartings and linebacker James Farrior in back-to-back years.
Hartings, who signed with the Steelers in 2001, continued the line of excellence that the Steelers have enjoyed at center. Farrior, who signed with the Steelers the year after Hartings, blossomed into one of the best inside linebackers in the NFL and became one of the driving forces behind a run in which the Steelers won a pair of Super Bowls and played in three of them from 2005-10.
The Steelers didnít do nearly as well in 2007 when they signed former Buccaneers center Sean Mahan to a five-year, $17 million contract. Mahan lasted just one season in Pittsburgh, and the Steelers traded him to the Buccaneers in 2008 after he lost his starting job to Justin Hartwig.
I'm really excited about this signing. The FO made a move on this guy pretty darn quick. And they were quite hush-hush about it. He will have Carnell Lake to help continue his development. To me, this is a player on the upswing and I think we will benefit greatly from this pickup.
The secondary just improved by a good margin. There is still some work to be done, but I feel more confident in the position we are in heading into the draft. Just like the Steelers to lock down as many needs as possible and get into a position for success with the draft.
At first glance, I didn't like the signing. We never sign anyone on day one of free agency when prices are at a premium (even when we weren't trying to dig ourselves out of cap hell) and when we finally do it, we give $25 million over 5 years to a guy who was a typical Al Davis draft bust draft pick until he signs a 1 year $1 million contract with Carolina and thrives with a dominant front 7 in front of him.
However, now that the details are in, it looks much better. Only $5.75 million of that $25 million is guaranteed, with $4.75 million in signing bonus (pro-rated cap hit of $950K per season over the life of the deal). With a 2014 base salary of $750K and a half-million dollar roster bonus, plus the pro-rated portion of the signing bonus, he will only count $2.2 million against the cap this year. Nice. Next year, he is due a roster bonus of $2 million in March and is scheduled to make $2 million in base salary (with the pro-rated SB figured in, that's a $4.95 cap hit). If he's absolutely awful this season and we cut him before that $2 million roster bonus comes due a year from now, he'd count for $3.8 million against the cap (not sure if you can cut a guy before a roster bonus comes due and still designate it a post-June 1 cut, but if that's possible, then it could be split up with $950K against the 2015 cap and $2.85 against the 2016 cap). His cap hit for the 2016, 2017, and 2018 seasons is $5.95 million each season ($5 million base plus prorated SB). If we cut him after 2 seasons, then it would a $2.85 total cap hit (can be split into $950K in 2016 and $1.9 million in 2018 if after June 1st). If we cut him after 3 seasons, then it would a $1.9 total cap hit (can be split into $950K in 2017 and $950K in 2018 if after June 1st).
So essentially, the money's pretty reasonable. If he's the guy we saw in Oakland, we keep him for a year or two and it won't be a cap-crippling dead money hit to let him go. If he's the guy we saw in Carolina, then the $5.95 cap hit could be considered a relative bargain when 2016, 2017, and 2018 roll around (especially considering the anticipated growth in the cap ceiling over the next few years).
I'm not overly concerned about the SS/FS designation. In today's NFL, strong safeties and free safeties are essentially interchangeable. Both need to be able to play the pass well and play the run well...if you are one dimensional, then other teams are able to take advantage of that deficiency. If you think about the style of safety who has played with Troy Polamalu over his career here (Chris Hope and Ryan Clark), both had styles very similar to what we see from Mitchell, so Troy is used to playing with a guy like that (except that Mitchell also has elite speed that Hope or Clark never had).