As we saw yesterday, while the Pittsburgh Steelers’ higher ups all confirmed during the NFL’s annual Owners Meetings that they were in all likelihood by and large done with their excavation of the free agent market, that will not preclude them from adding a value signing here and there in the five weeks leading up to the draft.
The team yesterday, of course, brought back one of their own free agents a day after the conclusion of the Owners Meetings when they re-signed wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey to a one-year veteran minimum contract, presumably on the same terms that he signed a year ago.
His signing gives the Steelers four experienced wide receivers on the roster and helps prevent the emergence of a void or a hole on the depth chart at the position that would result in forcing their hands come draft time to address it.
It is very rare, of course, that the Steelers ever leave such a glaring hole at a position leading up to the draft, for the very reason that they do not want to be put in a position where they feel obligated to draft for a specific position, which could easily result in reaching for a player that is not as talented as would be indicated by his draft position.
And it is for this reason that I expect that, at some point between now and the time that the 2015 NFL Draft begins, the Steelers will add a free agent cornerback to the roster, which would give them five with NFL experience, and three with significant NFL experience.
This if, of course, similar to the route that they took last offseason after they signed free agent Brice McCain to a one-year, veteran minimum qualifying contract, which gave the team, at the time, four cornerbacks with experience, and they proved to be a critical signing that ended up helping them win the division when he was forced into the starting lineup.
As the calendar continues to turn closer and closer to the draft, perhaps contract demands will recede as well, as the majority of teams with holes will have already addressed those gaps by adding free agents, often at price tags above their value.
While I don’t profess to be as well-versed in the free agent market as anybody else, I do believe that there could still be some value signings to be had at the cornerback position, provided that both parties are willing. The Baltimore Ravens last season got a number of contributions from unheralded defensive backs, for example.
Perhaps a player such as Aaron Ross, Zack Bowman, Josh Wilson, or Javier Arenas would be willing to sign off on a one-year contract, bringing a veteran free agent presence to the position, which could potentially help provide a bridge to whatever rookie or rookies the Steelers add during the draft. Either way, I do expect that they will find a veteran minimum-type free agent position before the draft to shore up the position just a bit before the end of April.