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Thread: Analyzing Steelers' Off-Season Moves So Far

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    Analyzing Steelers' Off-Season Moves So Far

    On the Steelers/Analysis: Time to add up month's wins, losses

    By Ed Bouchette / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    Where do the Steelers stand after much of the smoke has cleared in the first dozen days of free agency? Still standing, if a little wobbly.

    The loss of Jerricho Cotchery and Emmanuel Sanders left their group of wide receivers short and weaker, even though they added 5-foot-9 veteran Lance Moore. They have no running backs to speak of after Le'Veon Bell. And their defensive line looks as shallow as it has this century, even in March.

    On the other hand, they strengthened their position at safety with their biggest signing, Mike Mitchell, and by re-signing Will Allen. They now have two young safeties in Mitchell and Shamarko Thomas and two vets in Allen and Troy Polamalu.

    At the moment, they do not have a second starting defensive end after Cam Heyword or a second starting wide receiver after Antonio Brown. But they appear set in their offensive line, both with starters and backups. There are no issues at quarterback.

    So they have made progress in some areas, slipped in others, kept the status-quo in spots.

    It's time to take stock of the additions and subtractions in free agency, along with other maneuvers and possible future transactions as their executives gather for the NFL meetings that start this weekend in Orlando, Fla.

    First, let's look at the various maneuvers:

    ■ Safety Troy Polamalu and cornerback Ike Taylor accepted two-year contract extensions for no extra guaranteed money in order to save the team nearly $8 million in cap space in 2014. They now become the only assumed starters over 30 on defense. Excellent move.

    ■ Tackle Levi Brown, who suited up for one game but got hurt in warmups, was released to create $6.25 million in salary cap space. That was a no-brainer.

    ■ Linebacker Larry Foote was released to save $1.5 million in salary cap space. The coaches determined he no longer could play at an acceptable level. The move was not made to create cap room, particularly. They get more leadership drain by doing so, but decided it was time to move on.

    ■ Linebacker Jason Worilds was tagged as a transition player and he quickly signed the one-year contract that comes with it for $9,754,000. It's a move that had to be made, but one still waiting for the other shoe to drop with a long-term contract that would reduce that pricey salary-cap number in 2014. They could have used that room now, but it does not look as though they will get a long-term deal anytime soon.

    ■ Linebacker LaMarr Woodley was released, effective June 2, which is when the team will see their salary cap room grow by $8 million because of it. This move had to be made in conjunction with keeping Worilds.

    ■ Sanders signed with the Denver Broncos. While he was their biggest loss in free agency, they never made a real attempt to keep him.

    ■ Cotchery signed with the Carolina Panthers. He was among the few they really wanted to keep and were unable to do so. There was some indication that his wife, Mercedes, influenced him to leave Pittsburgh for North Carolina, where he met her while in college at North Carolina State.

    ■ They responded a day later by signing Moore, an eight-year vet with the New Orleans Saints who will presumably take Cotchery's spot.

    ■ Cornerback Curtis Brown, a third-round draft bust, was released to little effect.

    ■ Defensive ends Al Woods (Titans) and Ziggy Hood (Jaguars) sign elsewhere, as does halfback Jonathan Dwyer (Cardinals) and tight end David Johnson (Chargers). The Steelers might have been interested in keeping some of that quartet, but not interested enough.

    ■ Free agent safety Mike Mitchell left the Carolina Panthers to replace Ryan Clark for five years, $25 million, which is back-loaded to protect the team in case he does not pan out. He has been their best and biggest signing. They were not going to bring Clark back and this took the pressure off them to draft a safety.

    ■ The Steelers re-signed veteran safety Will Allen, long-snapper Greg Warren, backup guard-center Cody Wallace and backup guard-tackle Guy Whimper. All excellent choices to bring back, although none a full-timer.

    ■ Signed San Diego free agent nose tackle Cam Thomas to a two-year, $4 million contract. They needed to find someone to play in their defensive line. Although he lost his starting job near the end of last season, he gives them some depth.

    ■ Defensive end Brett Keisel remains a free agent in limbo. They have made no move to re-sign him and it appears he has no offers elsewhere. Agent Eric Metz said Keisel will not play in 2014 for minimum wage, which in his case would be $955,000.

    ■ Fernando Velasco, who played so well at center after Maurkice Pouncey's torn ACL in the opener, is still rehabbing from his Nov. 28 Achilles tear. He is a free agent, and the team will be interested in signing him back close to the opening of training camp, when his foot should be healed.

    ■ The same could be true for their free agent halfback LaRod Stephens-Howling, whose ACL was torn in the opener. It's possible he could return.

    ■ The Steelers have $2,174,434 in salary cap space, according to the NFL Players Association. That's enough for them to craft a multi-year contract for someone. They also could create another $3.8 million in space by restructuring the contract of Lawrence Timmons. So they have the means -- a way to have nearly $8 million in salary cap space now (not counting the additional $8 million they will gain on June 2 from the release of LaMarr Woodley). They could pick up more by signing Worilds to a long-term contract.

    ■ They can use some of that space on a veteran receiver, a backup halfback and a defensive end. Or, they can start re-signing players such as Maurkice Pouncey and Ben Roethlisberger to extensions.

    http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/s...#ixzz2wmnnccu1

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    Everything looks quite promising up to this point. An extension or two and some luck in the draft would set us up for another move or two post-June 2. Not to mention a new contract for Worilds.

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    Looks promising?

    Quote Originally Posted by 8467thekraken View Post
    Everything looks quite promising up to this point. An extension or two and some luck in the draft would set us up for another move or two post-June 2. Not to mention a new contract for Worilds.
    I wasn't one for us keeping many guys at all, but to watch the mass exodus (i.e. rats on a sinking ship) is quite troubling... People don't jump to leave a good situation.

    We have gotten a lot worse (from an 8-8 team mind you) in this FA period.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shoe View Post
    I wasn't one for us keeping many guys at all, but to watch the mass exodus (i.e. rats on a sinking ship) is quite troubling... People don't jump to leave a good situation.

    We have gotten a lot worse (from an 8-8 team mind you) in this FA period.
    I also agree that we are at a "Net loss" in this free agency period.

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    Im not ready to declare the salary cap fixed, but its looking pretty decent at this point. Once the rest of the positions are filled, take a look at what mortgaged to the future, and then make a decision.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hawaiiansteel View Post
    On the Steelers/Analysis: Time to add up month's wins, losses

    By Ed Bouchette / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    .............

    ■ Cotchery signed with the Carolina Panthers. He was among the few they really wanted to keep and were unable to do so. There was some indication that his wife, Mercedes, influenced him to leave Pittsburgh for North Carolina, where he met her while in college at North Carolina State.

    ..................

    http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/s...#ixzz2wmnnccu1

    never underestimate the power of non-monetary reasons for a player to make a move.....

    would have liked to have kept Cotch, but I think they got his equal in free agency.

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    Tomlin talks Steelers roster at NFL owners meeting

    March 23, 2014
    By Gerry Dulac / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    ORLANDO, Fla. — Sitting at an outdoor table overlooking the pool at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes resort, Mike Tomlin looked relaxed, upbeat and without angst for a coach who has lost at least two players from three positions, including two of his top three wide receivers.

    And why not?

    Rather than focus on the players the Steelers have lost since the start of free agency earlier this month, Tomlin instead chose to caution that it is way too early to start worrying about the makeup of his roster or how the Steelers have changed since the end of the 2013 season.

    “We’re talking about probably as many as 10 more people that could be on our football team that are not on our team as we sit here today,” Tomlin said Sunday at the NFL’s annual owners meetings, which begin today. “We’re still very much in the process of building for 2014.”

    Making his first public comments since his season-ending news conference in late December, Tomlin touched on a variety of subjects, including the loss of several players at wide receiver, defensive line and linebacker, and the desire to find a veteran running back.

    The Steelers already have signed three outside free agents — safety Mike Mitchell, defensive end Cam Thomas and wide receiver Lance Moore, who agreed to a two-year contract Friday — to replace some of their departed players. And they would like to add a veteran running back to back up Le’Veon Bell, a process that will continue Friday when former New England Patriots running back LaGarrette Blount will visit the South Side.

    “We’ve had some real positive developments thus far,” Tomlin said. “Getting a young talented guy like Mike Mitchell and Cam Thomas was important to us; retaining Jason Worilds was important to us; getting Heath [Miller] and Troy [Polamalu] done from an extension standpoint was important for us.

    “It’s still ongoing for us, but not that what’s going to happen is any less significant than the things I already mentioned. The things that we do moving forward — adding quality depth, insulating us against the unforeseen — is a big part of developing the type of team we need to be.”

    The Steelers met last week with former Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew. Tomlin said he “felt good” about the meeting and said “we’re open” to the possibility of signing him.

    “We need to add quality depth to that position, whether it’s through free agency or the draft,” Tomlin said. “Le’Veon Bell is a talented player, but he’s also a young player. It would be good to get a been-there, done-that type of guy in the room to maybe help him with his growth and development, but I don’t view it as a necessity.”

    Bell is the only running back from the 2013 53-man roster that is under contract. Jonathan Dwyer, who was an unrestricted agent, signed a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals. Felix Jones will not be brought back.

    “We’re certainly aware we have only one NFL-experienced running back and he’s only got a year,” said general manager Kevin Colbert, who is attending the meetings. “We’re well aware of our depth and we’ll try to add to it.”

    Colbert cited the example of receiver Jerricho Cotchery, whom the Steelers didn’t originally sign until Aug. 11, 2011, two weeks after training camp started.

    “We’re not going to panic about having one veteran running back on our team at this point,” Colbert said.

    The Steelers also lost two of their starting linebackers — veterans Larry Foote and LaMarr Woodley — but not because of free agency. They released Woodley for salary-cap reasons after they signed Jason Worilds to a one-year transition tender of $9,725,000. And they released Foote because they did not believe he would make their team with young linebackers Sean Spence, Vince Williams and Terence Garvin on the roster.

    Nonetheless, the loss of those players, who appeared in five Super Bowls between them, will cut into that unit’s experience. The old man of the group is Lawrence Timmons, 27.

    “It is, but the guys that are here are going to be one more year experienced and we don’t expect those guys to stay the same,” Tomlin said. “Even though you’re losing some veteran leadership and experience with the loss of those two guys, and that’s significant — I’m not trying to underscore that — at the same time it’s important that we all recognize that we don’t expect those who remain to remain the same.”

    When asked about the possibility of bringing back outside linebacker James Harrison, Colbert said: “We’re never going to close the door on any possibility, especially with a guy who was a huge part of your success. But we have to see what’s best for our team as we continue to go through this free-agent period. There might be other outside linebackers who can help us as well.”

    In other developments:

    • Colbert said Cam Thomas, who was signed from the San Diego Chargers, is a defensive end in the defense. But he did not discount Thomas might be tried at nose tackle.

    • Tomlin said the draft is so deep there are more “A” players — “Guys who could go in the top three rounds,” he said — than any draft in recent memory. “It’s going to provide us an opportunity to get quality guys in all areas,” Tomlin said.

    • Because of the amount of depth in the May draft, Colbert said the possibility of trading down in the first round “makes more sense in this draft than trading up.” But he added, “I’m sure everyone shares the same thought.”

    http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/s...#ixzz2wquPyvdJ

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    Steelers' Tomlin experiencing urgency entering 2014

    By Alan Robinson
    Published: Tuesday, March 25, 2014

    ORLANDO, Fla. — Mike Tomlin owns what arguably is the most secure head coaching position in the NFL, a league in which job tenure outside of Pittsburgh sometimes is measured in months, not years.

    The Steelers: Three head coaches in 45 years. The Cleveland Browns: Three head coaches in three years.

    But Tomlin acknowledged Tuesday at the annual NFL owners meetings that he feels a sense of urgency about the 2014 season.

    He didn't compare it to the need-to-win-now feeling he had in any other season, but it's there.

    It's not necessarily because of the 8-8 record in 2012, the 8-8 record in 2013 or that the Steelers sat out of the playoffs in successive seasons for the first time since 1998-2000.

    Rather, he said losers don't stay around forever in a league that is all about winning.

    “I don't assume that,” Tomlin said when asked about the stability that goes with working for the Steelers. “I like the urgency of now. I embrace that. It's a motivator for me, personally. I just enjoy the challenge that the NFL presents on a day-to-day basis, and I enjoy doing it with the collection of men that I work with in Pittsburgh.”

    He illustrated that thinking when a reporter from outside Pittsburgh attending the AFC coaches breakfast asked him about not reaching his goal of making the playoffs.

    “Getting to the postseason is not my goal,” Tomlin said, a bit emphatically. “My goal is to win the world championship.”

    The Steelers haven't been in a position to do that in two-plus years. They haven't been in the playoffs since the 2011 season or won a postseason game since the 2010 season. He understands that's probably beginning to wear on fans accustomed to enjoying as much playoff winning in a decade as those of some teams do in a lifetime.

    Still, Tomlin said, “I'd rather have high expectations than low ones.”

    In other cities, it was pointed out to Tomlin, it would be seen as a positive that the Steelers encouragingly turned around their 2013 season by winning six of their final eight after starting 2-6.

    “That doesn't dance in Western Pa., and I'm cool with that,” Tomlin said. “It's our goal and ambition on a yearly basis to compete for and win the world championship, as it should be. Our fans deserve that because they're special.”

    After the Steelers missed out on the playoffs on the final day of the regular season, Tomlin's focus shifted almost immediately to next season.

    “I get into 2014, (and) I don't assume anything,” Tomlin said. “What happened in 2013 is 2013. Obviously, it wasn't what we wanted. But at the same time, there were some positive things to build upon as we prepare for 2014.”

    To Tomlin, the pressure to win isn't tempered by the likelihood he won't get fired before the team bus arrives home from the final regular-season game, as the Browns did with former coach Rob Chudzinski last season.

    “Our business is winning,” Tomlin said.

    A little bit later, he added, “These aren't easy jobs.”

    Not even in Pittsburgh.

    http://triblive.com/sports/steelers/...#ixzz2x3etxUbp

  9. #9
    Recent addition of Blount is well received. I believe we have gotten a little younger and that just had to happen. Woodley was one of my favorites and I will miss him but it's done so that's it. No reason to believe JW n JJ can't be solid OLB duo.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Iron City Inc. View Post
    Recent addition of Blount is well received. I believe we have gotten a little younger and that just had to happen. Woodley was one of my favorites and I will miss him but it's done so that's it. No reason to believe JW n JJ can't be solid OLB duo.
    Agreed. I think we are a DL away from being back to even or a little above...in terms of "Net gain/loss" this off season. I think they missed the boat by not signing Carrington... I guess FA is not over yet though. That is the single biggest need right now IMO.

    I like the Lance Moore, LBlount, and Moats signings.

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