With the 2014 free agency signing period set to begin in less than a month, I figured we would run a series that takes a look at the Pittsburgh Steelers free agent signings dating back to 2000, when Kevin Colbert became the general manager.
We have already recapped the 2000 season and today we will look at what happened prior to the 2001 season. Keep in mind that these free agent signing recaps will be limited to only free agents from other teams that were signed prior to June 1st of that offseason as those are the ones that count when determining whether or not a team a team receives compensatory draft picks. The ones that are usually signed after that date are pretty much cheap, one or two year deals for the most part.
During the 2001 offseason, the Steelers signed three free agents from other teams and below is a quick recap of those signings. The salary cap for the 2001 season was $67.405 million.
Jeff Hartings – March 8, 2001 – Jeff Hartings was the first big free agent signing made by the Steelers in 2001 as the former Detroit Lions guard signed a six-year, $24.75 million contract. He was brought in to replace seven-time All-Pro center Dermontti Dawson, who was released a week earlier. Hartings reportedly turned down a six-year, $24 million contract to remain in Detroit. The former Penn State center played six seasons for the Steelers and started 160 games during that span. He earned Pro Bowl honors in 2004 and 2005 and was voted First-Team All-Pro in 2004 as well.
Mike Logan – March 23, 2001 – A few weeks after signing Hartings, the Steelers landed Jacksonville Jaguars free agent safety Mike Logan as he agreed to a three-year, $3.1 million deal. The former second-round draft pick was brought in mainly for depth purposes and over the course of his six years in Pittsburgh, he started just 17 regular-season games while appearing in 73 total.
Mike Jones – April 20, 2001 – The day before the 2001 NFL Draft, the Steelers again dipped into the free agent pool as the signed veteran linebacker Mike Jones, an unrestricted free agent from the St. Louis Rams, to a three-year, $2.75 million contract. The plan was for Jones to play next to Earl Holmes, who had to move over to the strong-side spot after Levon Kirkland was released. That plan, however, was interrupted by rookie linebacker Kendrell Bell, who the Steelers drafted the day after Jones was signed. Bell out-played Jones during the preseason and as a result won the starting spot. Jones dressed for 15 games in 2001, but was made a post June 1st cut the following offseason in order to stretch out his dead money cap hit over two seasons.
So why isn’t quarterback Tommy Maddox on this list? For starters, Maddox was a street free agent after the XFL folded. Second, he wasn’t signed until the middle of June. In case you are curious, Maddox’s initial contract was a two-year deal for the minimum that totaled out at $925,000.
Previous Articles In This Series
Recapping The Steelers Free Agency Signings During The Kevin Colbert Era – 2000 Season