Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Steelers Sign Brice McCain, Bring In Prospect Bradley Roby: Defensive Backfield Is In Motion

"NFL teams threw for a combined 120,633 yards last season, an average of 471.2 yards passing per game for both teams. That’s way, way up from the combined 109,467 yards in 2003, when teams combined to average 400.8 yards passing per game." - http://t.co/4CPn0Ng9p6 

Those words from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Alan Robinson indicate the need to have a strong secondary. The Pittsburgh Steelers recognize this and are still makeover mode. 

Tuesday morning, the Steelers announced the signing of former Houston Texans Nickel defensive back Brice McCain. 

It was also disseminated Monday night that Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby would be visiting the South Side. 

One is a potential upgrade, the other is something that likely just smacks at depth. 

Like the Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac tweeted (@gerrydulac), "McCain signed for depth. Started 10 of 72 games in 5 seasons w Houston." So, yes, he undoubtedly will be a backup cornerback and special teams player for the Steelers. In Houston, the 4.33/40 McCain often was the gunner.

At first glance, though, this isn't a good signing. As the aforementioned article states, "the 5-foot-9, 180-pound McCain was the NFL’s worst-rated cornerback last season, according to Pro Football Focus."

But going back a little further reminds us that Brice McCain was once an integral part of the Texans secondary. The very same Pro Football Focus two years earlier wrote of McCain being a "secret superstar." - 

But we had written previously that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin recently said that they would be focusing on the defense's sub packages, as this current NFL showcases more and more three- and four-receiver sets, forcing Nickel and Dime packages. So it is possible that defensive backs coach Carnell Lake feels he has something to work with in McCain. 

Regardless, the teams who thrive in that pass-happy environment are obvious. Case in point, the Super Bowl-Champion Seattle Seahawks had 28 interceptions last season. 

The Steelers had 31 interceptions. . .over the last three seasons (10 INTs in 2013, 10 in '12 and 11 in '11). That means the secondary, then, is of unique importance in today's game. True to his word, therefore, Tomlin has orchestrated a second defensive back free agent signing.  

The other DB who will be in town is draft hopeful Bradley Roby. The Ohio State product was on Sirius XM (@SiriusXMNFL on Twitter) Monday night and announced his plans: "I have 8 visits set up. I will be meeting with the Chargers, Steelers, Titans, Bills and Jets this week."

Roby, who had been considered a top-ten draft prospect going into his junior year, saw his draft stock plummet because of a disappointing 2013 from a personal-play standpoint. 

Disappointing in just about every objective measurement - ball awareness, losing track of the receiver, backpedal - as he was torched and torched (and torched) last season. Rotoworld.com breaks down his performance here: http://www.rotoworld.com/articles/cfb/46190/349/peshek-cb-metrics-10

However, Roby has definite attributes - speed, explosion, good hands, good hips - and did have a very good showing at the NFL Scouting Combine. He was 4th among DBs  with a 4.39/40, T-6th in vertical jump (38.5"), T-11th in broad jump (10'4"), and was one of the more fluid DBs going through the drills overall. 

So, while the Combine is no substitute for a season's worth if games, he does have real NFL potential and could be a likely fit if the Steelers decide to address the wide receiver position in the first round and then go cornerback in the second (and third?) round. 


TIDBITS: Per the Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette, the "Steelers get McCain for vet minimum plus $65 K bonus. He will count $635,000 against their cap. That means he adds $215 K to cap as top-51."

Per the Rule of 51 and displacement of higher contract amounts, as Bouchette continued, the "Steelers now have a little less than $400 K in salary cap space."

OverTheCap.com had the Steelers at $712,896 before the previous signing (Blount), so those numbers look to be accurate. 


"@EdBouchette: Veteran WR Darrius Heyward-Bey to visit #Steelers Wed. 7th overall pick in 2009. UFA. Team has just under $400K in cap room" ... Umm...no.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Secondary May Be Key, But Steelers Cannot Neglect Defensive Line

After the end of the annual Beefcake Bonanza, aka the NFL Scouting Combine, If It Ain't Steel started to write several articles covering the Pittsburgh Steelers' positions of need in May's NFL Draft.

We wrote about the Steelers' needs at both linebacker spots. Needs that were quelled somewhat by the signing of Arthur Moats whose proclivity is particularly on the outside, though he is versatile enough to play inside as well. - http://ifitaintsteel.blogspot.com/2014/03/a-look-at-steelers-linebackers-and-post_7.html

Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery, exit stage left. Enter understudy sophomore wideout Markus Wheaton and veteran Lance Moore. They can also further deepen the position in a big way with possible draft selections like Mike Evans, Martavis Bryant, Jordan Matthews or maybe even an Eric Ebron. - http://ifitaintsteel.blogspot.com/2014/03/steelers-post-combine-nfl-draft-look.html

We also covered the possibility of drafting a safety, though that is now unlikely, at least in the first several rounds, with the Steelers grabbing former Carolina Panthers safety Mike Mitchell in free agency. - http://ifitaintsteel.blogspot.com/2014/03/addressing-secondary-post-nfl-combine.html

That, along with the re-signing of free safety Will Allen, the restructuring of strong safety Troy Polamalu, and Polamalu's heir apparent in Shamarko Thomas, allows the Steelers to focus elsewhere in the draft.

Mitchell's signing and then also that of defensive tackle Cam Thomas effectively takes players like Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix and Louis Nix III off the board for the Steelers at the 15th pick. That leaves said focus to be on the position of cornerback. - http://ifitaintsteel.blogspot.com/2014/02/post-nfl-combine-at-steelers-draft.html

The need to get better in the secondary can't be overstated, as the Steelers were tied for 5th in the NFL for the fewest takeaways in 2013 with 20 and even worse in interceptions with 10 only. So, for now, the piece we wrote on whom we believe best fits the Steelers' scheme at cornerback seems now to be even more relevant. 

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin certainly believes that the secondary is a key area of need, though he isn't neglecting the rest of the defense. He understands the need to be flexible in the way they attack. 

“We have to be multiple,” Tomlin said at the owners meetings this past week. “We have to be capable of providing pressure, but more importantly than that, [we] have to be able to provide pressure with four [players] or less. I think that’s what gives you the flexibility to be something to deal with.” (brackets ours)

The reason he says they have to be able to pressure with four or fewer players is because of the increase in sub packages because of pass-happy offenses. 

“I think in today’s NFL it’s about situational football and what offenses do, and how many receivers they have on the field,” Tomlin also said. “Often times, we spend a lot of time in sub-package football, whether you are a 3-4 or a 4-3. In today’s NFL, most times you have five or six defensive backs on the field.”

Whether in the Nickel, Dime or Quarters packages, the Steelers did have as many as six defensive backs on the field between 60%-65% of the time in 2013. A definite increase over previous years and one that causes defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau to construct a speed bump to slow these high-powered offenses. 

"You're going to see these up-tempo offenses more and more across the league," said LeBeau in an offseason interview. "So very early during our practice sessions, the offense will go a lot of no-huddle attack so our guys get comfortable with not only their up-tempo conditioning, but they get comfortable with the mechanics of getting the call relayed when you can't get huddled up. You need to practice that because the up-tempo is another tool offenses have now to pressure defenses."

This means that holding the point of attack becomes even more paramount. So does, as Tomlin alluded to, doing the same or more with less. The core of any and all teams lie in the offensive and defensive lines. The defensive line, therefore, definitely needs to be addressed. - http://tinyurl.com/knmuus3

As was said before, such a pick won't happen very early in the draft. There is, however, value to be found as early as the third and as late as the sixth round. Look, in that case, for names such as:

Daniel McCullers, DT/DE, Tennessee: 6'7", 352 LBs, 225-LB Bench Press 27 reps (3th-4th Round) - McCullers is big for even NFL standards. He isn't overly quick or explosive, and is about four or five inches too tall for a nose tackle in the Steelers scheme. However, he is a very good athlete for his size, moves his feet well in space and plugs holes well. With nine picks in May's draft, it could be worth taking a trip to Mount McCullers. - http://youtu.be/ZuFq87B0RNs

JUSTIN ELLIS, (pictured) DT/NT, Louisiana Tech: 6'2", 334 LBs, Bench 25 reps (3rd-4th Round) - "I love playing nose tackle," says Ellis. The true NT has quick and active hands to ward off blockers, and a thick-but-agile lower body that makes it tough for blockers to keep hold of him, per Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com. Think Joel Steed or Casey Hampton. - http://tinyurl.com/n5rsgj6

Ryan Carrethers, DT, Arkansas State: 6'1", 337 LBs, Bench 32 reps (5th-6th Round) - 2013 All-Sun Belt 1st Team and a real value pick for the Steelers if he falls to one of their four selections 5th and 6th rounds. - http://youtu.be/p4Xo6OfbeAU

Deandre Coleman, DE, California: 6'5", 314 LBs, Bench 24 reps (5th-6th Round) - A DE in an NFL 3-4 defense, Coleman has the power and athleticism that Steelers D-Line coach John Mitchell can definitely use to mold. And as NFLDraftScout.com states, "Coleman's value in the NFL will come as a run-stuffing presence." - http://youtu.be/NrbV4sJ5Ca8

Holding the point of attack, rushing the quarterback and creating turnovers is what is basically being said and what was once the core of the Steelers defense. 

These free agent moves juxtaposed by a mirror-like draft can be the petard which hoists them back there - with the fuse being lit by the defensive line.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Steelers Attack Offseason With Blount Force Object

Let me be Blount...the Pittsburgh Steelers appear to be very serious about ending their streak of 8-8 seasons at two. Very serious. 

First, the Steelers signed safety Mike Mitchell formerly of the Carolina Panthers on the very first day of Free Agency. Not long after, they signed defensive tackle Cam Thomas (Chargers), wide receiver Lance Moore (Saints) and then linebacker Arthur Moats (Bills).

Now, true to the Tribune-Review's Alan Robinson's words that they'd have a veteran running back to help Le'Veon Bell by Friday, they have signed LeGarrette Blount. Thanks, in part to former Steelers draftee Patrick Bailey. (More on that in a minute.)

Per ESPN's Adam Schefter in a post on Twitter (@AdamSchefter), "Steelers gave RB LeGarrette Blount a two-year, $3.85M deal, including a $950K signing bonus." 

In a recent blog article, If It Ain't Steel referred to Blount as "battering ram" and a "Blount Force Object." The 27-year-old is just that as he ran for 772 yards last season with the New England Patriots. Those yards came on just 153 carries. That's a 5.04 yards per carry average. 

Blount is a strong, physical force. Just ask Byron Hout. -  http://youtu.be/DIp3vaAyffI

That marred Blount early on, showing a temper that got him suspended and also pushed him out of the 2010 NFL Draft. Blount, who had been projected to be a 5th-round draft prospect, was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Tennessee Titans. But after initially making the Titan's roster, they waived him to make room for needed linebacker help. One of those LBs was Patrick Bailey.

Blount was claimed off of waivers by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and had a 1,000-yard rookie campaign. Two subsequent inconsistent seasons led him to being picked up by the Patriots - a move that paid off for both parties. 

Now the Steelers make it official that they have signed the 6'1", 250-pound back. -  http://stele.rs/1lsfDwN
WATCH: http://stele.rs/O6FdII 

The divisional-round domination of the Indianapolis Colts (24 carries for 166 yards) shows the potentially unstoppable combination of he and Bell. ("Killa B's"..."Bash Brothas"..."Bangers Ball"..."Blount Force Trauma, Inc"...? I'll work on their nickname.)

While Blount may not contribute much in the passing game and has 12 fumbles in four seasons, losing eight, his hard-nose running style (4.7 career YPC) makes for a valuable third-down, short-yardage and goal line ball-carrier. 

Add to that, his propensity for kick returns (29.06 yards per return last season) means an instant return on the Steelers' investment. Both of those traits give the Steelers something they've sorely been needing. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Steelers Talk Free Agency, Lance Moore Signing; Compensatory Picks Awarded

UPDATED: Tuesday, Mar. 25

“We’re right on schedule,” Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Sunday in regard to free agency. 

On Sunday, Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin spoke to the Pittsburgh media, specifically the Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac and the Tribune-Review's Alan Robinson, with the subject mainly being free agency. According to Colbert, as the quote above states, the team is right where they want to be in free agency. 

This is what has transpired in free agency to this point:

Signed: S Mike Mitchell (Panthers); DT Cam Thomas (Chargers); WR Lance Moore (Saints); Arthur Moats (Bills).

Lost: DE Ziggy Hood (Jaguars); DE Al Woods (Titans); WR Emmanuel Sanders (Broncos); RB Jonathan Dwyer (Cardinals); TE David Johnson (Chargers); WR Jerricho Cotchery (Panthers).

Re-signed: OLB Jason Worilds (transition tender); FS Will Allen; G/C Cody Wallace; LS Greg Warren; G/T Guy Whimper; TE Michael Palmer.

Cut: LB LaMarr Woodley (Raiders); LB Larry Foote; CB Curtis Brown.

Unsigned: DE Brett Keisel; WR Plaxico Burress; S Ryan Clark; RB Felix Jones; P Mat McBriar; RB LaRod Stephens-Howling; LB Stevenson Sylvester; C Fernando Velasco; LB Jamaal Westerman; C Eric Olsen (ERFA; no tender).

Colbert spoke on several issues, including the loss of veteran wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery and the subsequent gain of former New Orleans receiver Lance Moore. 

Of Cotchery Colbert said that "other people saw in him what we did," but that the Panthers offered more than the Steelers could. 

They still lost valuable experience and a valuable role player when Cotch left. Fortunately, they found another on Friday in the form of Moore, signed to a two-year deal, whom Colbert described as a "very smart, experienced receiver...who knows how to work in the slot" as Cotch did. - http://tinyurl.com/lywo8y5

The 30-year-old Moore was released by the Saints last season. After just 37 receptions last year when injuries slowed his production, he had averaged 61 receptions per year the previous three seasons.

Colbert also said something to which all Steelers fans should pay attention - there is no need "to panic" about lack of running back depth behind Le'Veon Bell. 

A point which Tomlin reiterated when he spoke with the media Sunday for the first time since the season ended. He was asked about the team's running back situation, specifically Le'Veon Bell and their recent meeting with free-agent running back Maurice Jones-Drew.

"I felt good," Tomlin replied. "We are open to it. I'll stop short of saying 'have to,' but we need to add quality depth to that position, whether it's through free agency or the draft."

Tomlin then elaborated on what he wanted to see happen regarding Bell.

"Le'Veon Bell is a talented player but 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 growth and development. But I don't view it as a necessity, quite honestly, because Le'Veon is a very grounded and humble young man and is open to getting better, and is a good listener." - http://tinyurl.com/kafllcp

MJD could definitely be considered to fit the bill as he has been the feature back for most of his eight years with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Not to mention being somewhat in Bell's position early in his career when was being mentored by running back Fred Taylor.

However, he isn't the only RB who'll be on the South Side this week. The Steelers will also meet with LaGarrette Blount on Friday, after the NFL Meetings end.

The 6'0", 250-pound Blount would seem to fit with the Steelers better than MJD. At least in financial terms. In terms of style, though, Blount fits the what Steelers fans prefer to see. He is a battering ram, a true Blount force object (sorry, couldn't resist).

UPDATE: Speaking from the NFL Meetings again on Tuesday, Tomlin reiterated that the team would be getting depth to complement Bell. Though the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Alan Robinson tweeted (@arobinson_Trib) that the "Steelers likely to have deal with experienced running back by end of week," Tomlin has a broader timetable.

"We need to have depth in that area and we will in the not-too-distant future, whether it's in free agency or the draft." - http://tinyurl.com/mayj8s4  


It was announced Monday that the Steelers have been awarded three Compensatory Picks - in the 3rd, 5th and 6th rounds - in May's NFL Draft. This is one more than we had been led to expect, which includes the highest Comp Pick, No. 97 in round three. They now have nine total selections. 

Teams can't receive more than four compensatory picks in a year, as did the New York Jets this year, and the picks cannot be traded.

The formula the NFL uses is a closely guarded secret, but it can be extrapolated based on given data. 

As Steelers beat writer Mark Kaboly tweeted Monday (@MarkKaboly_Trib), "Compensatory free agents are determined by formula based on salary, playing time, postseason honors. Not every FA lost or signed applies."

The Steelers lost several free agents in 2013 who factor into the NFL’s compensatory formula. As Steelers PR man Burt Lauten tweeted (@SteelersPRBurt), "Players the @steelers lost as FAs last year that factor into compensatory picks: Wallace, Lewis, Allen, Mendenhall, Mundy & Legursky.”


TIDBITS: Steelers attending North Carolina, Duke, Texas A&M pro days this week. Were at Florida St., Notre Dame and Michigan St. last week. Colbert, Tomlin will likely both be on A&M trip.

Steelers Sign LB Arthur Moats To Strengthen Thin Corps

"I don't want to see anybody hurting and not playing any more....But if he doesn't, and I was the guy to end the streak, all right. That's a little notable, yeah." - http://tinyurl.com/ln2592u

The notable hit in question was to now retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre when the then-Buffalo Bills' linebacker Arthur Moats hit him on the third play from scrimmage in the December 5, 2010 contest against the Minnesota Vikings. He hit him so hard that it ended Favre's streak of NFL starts at 297 consecutive games. 

Moats hit him so hard that Favre even started spelling his own name correctly. 

Welcome to Pittsburgh, Mr. Moats. 

Per Steelers beat writer Gerry Dulac, the Steelers brass had met with Moats before they headed off to Orlando, Florida. 

They have signed him to a one-year contract to strengthen a thin, especially on the outside, linebacking corps. The terms of Moats' deal are $795,000 in total - $730,000 in salary with a $65,000 signing bonus - making them almost even with the NFL Salary Cap (maybe having approximately $250,000 or so to spare) depending on the terms of the Lance Moore deal.

Moats started 12 games at weak-side linebacker for the Bills last season and also played inside at the Buck. Word is that he can play either inside or outside in all four LB positions for the Steelers’ 3-4 defense. 

That is exactly the type of player the Steelers covet: tough, yet position flexible. 

The 26-year-old Moats was selected out of James Madison in the sixth-round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He ran an official 4.64/40 at that year's combine, but his fastest time was a 4.54/40. The 6'0", 250 pounder will be a major contributor on special teams, also. 

At the NFL Meetings in Orlando over the weekend, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin spoke of running back Le'Veon Bell as being "a talented player but 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 growth and development."

The same can be said of the Steelers 2013 first-round draft pick, OLB Jarvis Jones. Jones showed flashes of real promise at the end of the season, so a "been-there, done-that" Moats can help in that maturation. 

Moats' addition likely signals the end of the 'James Harrison return' talk, and make the Steelers linebackers group one of the youngest in the league. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Will Recent Free Agency Moves Affect Steelers Drafting Of A Defensive Lineman?

The Pittsburgh Steelers uncharacteristically acted quickly on the first day of free agency to sign safety Mike Mitchell. 

Wait, it gets better.

The Steelers signed yet another free agent on Friday, former San Diego Chargers nose tackle Cam Thomas. The 6'3", 330 pounder will add needed depth on the defensive line. - http://tinyurl.com/p7ow9rw

We emphasize "depth" here because the Chargers benched the true nose guard late last season, despite having 26 tackles, two passes defended and an interception. If he is in middle, Steve McLendon could move to defensive end. Though, we simply doubt Thomas will step in as starter. 

While, yes, a Casey Hampton-type space eater in middle could upgrade a declining run defense, is today's NFL completely conducive to that? Also, is Thomas even that man? After all, he was benched toward the end of the season. 

One upside to Thomas (@Baby_Zilla76 on Twitter), though, is his age - he just turned 27 years old this past December. So he does at least have youth on his side. 

Still, it doesn't quite balance the losses of free agent defensive ends/nose tackles Al Woods (Tennessee Titans) and Ziggy Hood (Jacksonville Jaguars). Their departure makes the Steelers paper thin across the defensive line, with the biggest loss being Woods, who, in just two starts at nose tackle, still recorded more sacks last season than Jarvis Jones. He has definite upside that was certainly in the team's plans. 

Now, with just Brian Arnfelt, Hebron Fangupo and Nick Williams under contract, the signing of Cam Thomas is a needed depth signing if nothing else. 

I bet Brett Keisel looks a lot more attractive now. (Anybody have Alameda Ta’amu's number?)

Which now begs the question of what the Steelers will do regarding the position in the NFL Draft? 

Since the Steelers strayed somewhat from the norm in free agency, might they do so in May and go after a Louis Nix III? No, we simply don't expect a high pick to be spent on a defensive linemen. Especially if the guys at PatsCap.com are correct.

Their interpretation of the new CBA suggests that it limits the number of compensatory picks to the number of teams in the league. As a result, the Steelers may not receive a "net value" pick. This is dependent, naturally, "on how the NFL values the qualifying players, and which of the qualifying players is used when multiple 7th round value players are involved. One of the earlier listed teams could lose their pick instead."

If the Steelers are one of the earlier listed teams, they may not be compensated for the loss of safety Ryan Mundy. That would mean the Steelers would need to get as much value in each round as possible.

As far as the defensive line is concerned, that could mean players such as Daniel McCullers (3th-4th round), Justin Ellis (4th-5th round), Ryan Carrethers (5th-6th round) or Deandre Coleman (6th round). But, more on them in a later article.

Instead, therefore, look for the Steelers to keep going right along with their original plans. They have been reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac to want a big/big-play receiver in the first or second round. That won't change.

Speaking of receivers, per Joe Person, the Carolina Panthers beat writer for the Charlotte Observer, on his Twitter (@josephperson) account Monday: "Jerricho Cotchery's free agent trip to Charlotte began tonight with dinner with Ron Rivera and Mike Shula. Continues tomorrow. #courting.” 

As a way of free agency balance, what do the Steelers do? Bring in another free agent. CBSSports.com reported that the Steelers will host former New Orleans Saints wide receiver Lance Moore on Tuesday. 

Business as usual this offseason. 


TIDBITS: “@steelers: We have re-signed veteran offensive lineman Guy Whimper.


We expect Cam Thomas' contract to be somewhere in the realm of two years, $2-$3 million with a minor signing bonus.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Steelers Sign Free Agent S Mike Mitchell; Latest On Salary Cap

UPDATED: 3/12/14
After two seasons of being in rarely-traveled waters, the Pittsburgh Steelers took measures to counter that...by going into rarely-traveled waters.

On the first day of free agency, the Steelers unexpectedly dove into the free agent pool and signed former Oakland Raiders and Carolina Panthers safety, Mike Mitchell. 

The 6'1", 216-pound Mitchell, 26, was drafted by the Raiders in 2009 and spent his first four seasons in Oakland. He saw his best season in 2013, though, after signing a one-year deal with the Panthers. A first-time starter, Mitchell recorded 72 tackles, 10 passes defenses, four interceptions and two forced fumbles in 13 starts (15 games total) on the NFL's No. 2 defense.

This is a day after the Steelers announced other transactions affecting their secondary as cornerback Ike Taylor accepted a pay cut to stay with the Steelers. A cut from his original $7 million salary to $2.75 million, which saves the team $4.25 million in Salary Cap room.

Taylor's Cap hit was lowered to $7.692 million, down from $11.942 million. Meaning the Steelers started the day at approximately $7.3 million under the Cap.

Also on Monday, outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley was released with a June 1st designation. Officially released Tuesday, Woodley is now free to sign with another team, but the Steelers won't benefit from the $8 million Cap savings until June 2nd. He also carries a $5.59 million dead money hit this year and $8.58 million in 2015.

The aforementioned amount made it possible to sign Mitchell. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the "Steelers gave former Panthers S Mike Mitchell a five-year, $25 million deal, per source." If It Ain't Steel is expecting $7.5-$10 million guaranteed. UPDATE: Per ESPN's David Todd, it carried a $5.25 million with a $4.75 million signing bonus prorated over five years. He will count $2.2 million against the Cap this year.

Mitchell's receiving what basically can be considered a starter's contract means that he will replace free safety Ryan Clark in the Steelers secondary.

He will replace RC25 in more ways than one: he's a hard-hitting player who can play both safety positions and is adept at getting to the quarterback. According to Pro Football Focus, he is "one of the best blitzing safeties in the league, generating 11 pressures and four sacks on just 23 pass rushes.”

Mitchell was ranked as PFF's 10th best FA safety on the market. In their ranking they also speak on his shortcomings in writing that he has "major questions against the run. No safety missed more tackles than his 18.” - https://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2014/02/21/ranking-the-2014-free-agents-safeties/

Most of that can be chalked up to aggression, however, as Mitchell is known to look for the big hit.

Despite his four interceptions, he isn't a great cover guy. Good, but not great. His 4.39/40 speed does help, however.

Still, Troy Polamalu seems to be the Steelers better safety in coverage, therefore. Since defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau likes to use his safeties interchangeably, don't expect a move from strong safety to FS for Polamalu. Though it will allow him to step outside the box (no pun intended), as he had the most snaps among safeties in the box at 79.8%.

His addition, plus the presence of recently re-signed Will Allen and 2nd-year man Shamarko Thomas takes away safety as a position of need in the draft.


TIDBITS: Steelers finally announce the re-signing of safety Will Allen. The Steelers also announced the signing of C/G Cody Wallace to a three-year contract, which likely sounds the death knell of C/G Fernando Velasco, and of 10-year veteran Long Snapper Greg Warren. Term have to be disclosed.


Defensive end Al Woods will visit the Tennessee Titans on Wednesday.UPDATED: Per Ed Bouchette, Woods has signed with the Titans.


Don't assume the Steelers are done for now, though. If the Steelers stay in the free agent waters, their next move might be a backstroke to a linebacker.