There was a bit of life finally coming out of the South Side facility yesterday—a lot of life, actually, as the Pittsburgh Steelers finally got active in free agency by reaching two new deals.
Pittsburgh hosted its first free agent of the offseason and did not let him leave without signing a contract—not that he seemed to have any intention of doing so. Running back DeAngelo Williams, released by the Panthers after nine seasons, came in for a visit and will now stay in Pittsburgh after signing a two-year contract worth $4 million.
The Steelers were in search of running back depth after failing to find just that last year via the signing of LeGarrette Blount and the drafting of Dri Archer. While Blount’s signing was fairly universally praised, the at times troubled back failed to finish the first year of a two-year deal during a tumultuous few months that concluded with him walking off the field before a game had ended.
Williams is certainly a different person, which is readily apparent with a cursory glance at the way they handle themselves. Another important distinction is how they view themselves. Williams is at a point in his career in which he can accept the role for which he is being brought in, which is basically to be Le’Veon Bell’s wingman. Blount wanted to be Batman and Robin.
Also worth noting is the fact that Williams was a released player, meaning that his signing will not factor into the compensatory formula next year.
The big news of the day, however, was the signing of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to a new five-year contract that will tie him to the Steelers through the 2019 season. This is without question the biggest move the front office could have made this offseason, even if the fact that it would eventually get done was inevitable.
While the deal itself was inevitable, what was not certain was when it would get done. Many hoped that Roethlisberger’s deal would come sooner and in a manner that would allow the Steelers to be more active in the early days of free agency, but that was not to be.
With the contract now in the rearview mirror, however, the front office can turn their focus to what lies ahead, and they are reportedly doing just that. The Steelers appear to have already lined up their second free agent visit, this time with a player from a position of need on defense.
After being connected to him earlier in the week, it was reported yesterday that the Steelers will play host to free agent cornerback Patrick Robinson, a former first-round draft pick of the Saints, over the weekend.
The team already lost cornerback Brice McCain via free agency, though they did tender restricted free agent Antwon Blake. While Robinson never lived up to his draft position, he could certainly be viewed as an upgrade for the Steelers, and a change of scenery—and Carnell Lake—could help him reach his potential.