After the first few waves of free agency have came and went, now is about the time the die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan probably wants to bang their head off the wall.
With dire needs at both cornerback and outside linebacker, the team stood by and did nothing, watching even some of the mid-tier names like oft-injured Brian Orakpo and Jabaal Sheard get swallowed up by other teams. It’s like handcuffing a starving man in a buffet line. Orakpo signed for 4-years and $32 million, and although injuries have somewhat derailed him, the thought of him healthy and playing in the Titans’ defense under Dick LeBeau and Ray Horton should frighten Andrew Luck and company in the AFC South.
With only Jarvis Jones and Arthur Moats at outside linebacker, most will wonder why the team didn’t offer Orakpo a one year, “prove it” deal, considering they have more cap space this year than any season in recent memory. They could have even more cap space after the extension is given to Ben Roethlisberger, which news just broke on as of this writing. Now, the only realistic option looks to be to call up James Harrison, who has previously stated he’d return for one of two teams-Tennessee or Pittsburgh. With Tennessee locking up one of their own edge rushers in Derrick Morgan we an cross the Titans off that list. On the other hand, Tennessee won’t be looking for a pass rusher with their second overall pick, likely dropping one of the draft’s top rush prospects to Pittsburgh at 22.
What about the secondary? With a patchwork bunch last year of massive underachiever Cortez Allen, Brice McCain, Ike Taylor, Antwon Blake and William Gay, opposing teams scorched Pittsburgh through the air. And it doesn’t look any better either, with Taylor retiring or playing for LeBeau or elsewhere, McCain signing with the Miami Dolphins, and the team does nothing to fortify the position. However, they did make an “inquiry” to Darrelle Revis’ camp, but one can imagine how that conversation went down. With the cornerback options dwindling as well, one affordable option was Chris Culliver, but as of this writing he was scooped up by the Washington Redskins. Keenan Lewis and Patrick Robinson remain two other intriguing options, especially Lewis, who’s already played for Pittsburgh and is familiar with the defense and locker room. If he’s available in any fashion, whether for a fourth or third round pick, by all means the team should be all over that. He’s an instant starter, and a good one, at a position of need. He’s without question better than any corner the team currently has on the roster. One of those picks should be spent on a known item, instead of a developmental project or a luxury scatback like last year’s third rounder, Dri Archer. This seems like a much smarter idea than spending a potential first round pick on a questionable prospect like Marcus Peters.
Just last offseason, the team kicked the tires on and even made offers to talented tight end Jermichael Finley.
“Pittsburgh have showed me a couple deals, but we all know the money ain’t what it’s supposed to be,” Finley told USA Today.
Finley suffered an injury to his spinal cord that required surgery, which was performed by none other than Steelers’ team doctor and neurosurgeon Dr. Joseph Maroon. Maroon actually even cleared him to return to the playing field, but Finley instead went about trying to file his claim for a $10 million insurance policy. The fine print never precluded him from returning to the playing field, and at only 27, he could offer another lethal weapon in the Pittsburgh aerial assault. This is another tire the team should re-kick, but it remains to be seen if it will.
Basically the whole point here is that the team is seemingly satisfied with the players it has at crucial positions, and is wasting the best years of Roethlisberger’s career in an attempt to “develop” their homegrown players. Last year’s example of that with Allen was an abomination. By the time these players are developed and the defense regains some sort of edge and swagger, Ben will be retired or on his last legs. Who knows how much longer he’ll play, maybe until 40 like Peyton Manning. Maybe he’ll ride off into the sunset in the latter years of his career like John Elway. The point is, with how atrocious the play has been at those respective positions, you’d think the front office would be proactive in finding solutions while Ben’s window is still open. A true franchise quarterback doesn’t just grow on trees, and look how many years the team went until they finally found one in #7. As of now, bringing back Harrison seems to be the only logical one outside of the draft, and perhaps Robinson, or Lewis, if they’re still available by the end of this sentence.