Player: Terence Garvin
Experience: 2 Years
Free Agent Status: Exclusive Rights
2014 Salary Cap Hit: $495,000
2014 Season Breakdown: Terence Garvin actually had a greater impact on the defensive side of the ball in 2013 as an undrafted rookie than he did in 2014 as a more veteran player. He played only 11 snaps on the year, with seven of them coming at the goal line in the first matchup against the Ravens in an experiment that didn’t exactly end well.
In this package, the Steelers left just one defensive back on the field, while adding an additional lineman and two linebackers. Garvin was one of the extra linebackers on these carries. The formation was effective against the run, but gave up two short touchdowns through the air, with the first one going against Garvin.
Garvin saw more playing time as a rookie, especially toward the end of the season—but of course the circumstances were different. The starter at the mack position was lost for the year in the season opener, and the other two backups were also new to the team. In 2014, The Steelers retained one of those two other players, got another back from injury after two years, and used their first-round draft pick at the same position, so of course his playing opportunities on defense became more scarce in year two.
Of course, defense has never been his primary function for the Steelers. He made it as an undrafted rookie in 2013 because of his special teams play, forcing the team to carry nine linebackers, including Garvin, who had to win his offseason roster spot via a tryout.
And special teams has been his forte, certainly racking up double-digits tackles on special teams in each of his first two seasons with the team. He also substantially cut down on missing tackles on special teams this past season as well, and has become quite reliable.
Garvin has played a role as a blocker in each of the team’s last two punts returned for touchdowns. Last year, he took out the Bengals’ punter (for which he was later fined). In the season finale in 2014, he blocked two different Bengals on the same play. He has the look of a future special teams captain, serving on all the key units and filling whatever role is asked of him with competence.
Free Agency Outlook: As an exclusive rights free agent, Garvin wouldn’t have had a lot of options (namely, one) if he wanted to continue his career in the league. Of course, the Steelers have already announced that they have tendered him and signed him to keep him on the roster for the 2015 season, making his free agency outlook a moot point.
The more interesting question will be whether he could take over as the Steelers’ special teams captain. With four other inside linebackers already under contract, it’s unlikely that he sees much if any playing time on defense.