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  

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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.”

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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.