Player: Clifton Geathers
Position: Defensive Line
Experience: 5 Years
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2014 Salary Cap Hit: $171,765
2014 Season Breakdown: The Steelers signed defensive lineman Clifton Geathers late in the regular season in order to fill the vacancy on the roster left in the wake of defensive end Brett Keisel’s season-ending injury. The veteran lineman was placed on injured reserve, possibly playing the last game of his career, either with the Steelers, or in general.
Geathers, following his signing, played just as much as Keisel did, and dressed for as many games, over the course of the Steelers’ last five games, including the playoffs, as did Keisel. That would, of course, mean that he did not dress for any of the five games in which he was a part of the Steelers’ 53-man roster, although he did collect his game checks while serving on the inactive list.
The former 2010 sixth-round draft pick has never played more than a couple hundred snaps in any season, and has already spent time with eight different teams in his five years in the league, including four different teams during his rookie season.
His most extensive look came in 2013 while he was a member of the Eagles, playing in every game, but only twice logging more than 20 snaps. He has recorded 24 total tackles during his career to go along with one sack, which came in 2012 while with the Colts.
After the Steelers first signed him, head coach Mike Tomlin talked about his addition to the roster, saying that the team did take a look at him during free agency in the past, though they came away with Cam Thomas during the offseason.
Tomlin went on to say that they liked his body type and experience and that they felt he had the physical capabilities to help the team. Of course, he was never given the opportunity to help the team, given that he was never put on the active list.
But that would have been hard to do, especially along the defensive line for the Steelers, with John Mitchell a stickler for technical details and one who is not quick to let a compliment slip out.
Free Agency Outlook: To be clear, the signing of Geathers in early December was significant only in the sense that it filled up a roster spot. Had the Steelers really valued him, of course, he could have been signed in the offseason originally.
Following his year with the Eagles, the division rival Redskins signed Geathers to a two-year, $3.2 million deal, but he only made it to November before they released him, putting him back on the market.
Whether or not the Steelers have any interest in re-signing him, even as a body, remains to be seen, and depends on how they work out the rest of the defensive line. If they release Keisel or he elects to retire, for example, or Thomas is released, there could be room for Geathers to play his way for a job on a veteran minimum contract, but I wouldn’t expect much else beyond that.