Steelers Free Agent Departures Piling Up

While the Pittsburgh Steelers have signed seven free agents from outside the organization, they have now lost eight of their own free agents in the process, having come in with 22 free agents in total.

Granted, few of them went on to sign contracts of any significance, or are expected to play a big role with their new teams, so you shouldn’t get your hopes up about future compensatory draft picks for next season, but I digress.

The loss of eight free agents of their own further attests to the roster turnover process that is under way following two .500 seasons. The 2013 roster already featured significant turnover from the 2012 season, and 2014 appears to be more of the same.

The two most notable free agent departures are, of course, Emmanuel Sanders and Ziggy Hood, both of whom have signed multi-year contracts worth totals in excess of $15 million each. Sanders signed with the Denver Broncos and Hood with the Jacksonville Jaguars after the Steelers showed no interest in retaining them.

The most significant free agent loss after those two, as far as monetary value is concerned, was the signing of Jerricho Cotchery by the Carolina Panthers, which prompted the Steelers to make moves elsewhere and have since brought in two more receivers.

Al Woods also signed a two-year contract worth a couple million per season, which was another loss that forced the Steelers to take action to make up the difference, signing Cam Thomas to take his place.

Tight end David Johnson was signed by the San Diego Chargers early on in the free agency process on a two-year contract, while running back Jonathan Dwyer decided to head to Arizona rather than staying in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers lost two more free agents recently as well, the more notable of the two being safety Ryan Clark. Clark has spent the past eight seasons starting at free safety alongside Troy Polamalu, having played several seasons at a Pro Bowl level before seeing a steep decline in play a season ago.

Clark talked during the season about his belief that he was not at the point in his career where he had to settle for veteran-minimum; however, time has a way of changing people’s minds, as that is just the type of contract that he signed with the Washington Redskins.

The last loss began as an exclusive rights free agent, but after the Steelers failed to offer him a contract, interior offensive lineman Eric Olsen became an unrestricted free agent. He signed yesterday with the Tennessee Titans. The Steelers are already stacked on the interior of the offensive line and could still re-sign Fernando Velasco.

Combined with the six free agents that the Steelers re-signed, Pittsburgh still has eight remaining unsigned free agents, most notably among them Brett Keisel, LaRod Stephens-Howling, and Velasco, all of whom may yet return in 2014.

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