You can’t keep them all.
The Pittsburgh Steelers had a busy Tuesday and it included them signing one unrestricted free agent while losing two of their own to other teams.
Signing with the Steelers on Tuesday was former Denver Broncos tackle Ryan Harris as he agreed to a very affordable two-year, $3.9 million contract. Harris, who can play both tackle spots, will more than likely be asked to push Alejandro Villanueva this year during training camp and at worse serve as the teams swing tackle in 2016 if things go as planned. The addition of Harris also means that tackle Mike Adams, the team’s second-round draft pick in 2012, will have a tough time making the final 53-man roster barring any injuries.
The signing of Harris earlier in the day also served as a sign that unrestricted free agent tackle Kelvin Beachum would be signing elsewhere and that ultimately was the case later in the day as he agreed to terms on a contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. While the details of Beachum’s two-year deal with the Jaguars are still sketchy at the time of this post, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Steelers former seventh-round draft pick will earn $4.5 million in 2016 and possibly as much as $6 million in his first year if he reaches unknown incentives. Additionally, Schefter reports that Beachum stands to earn a $10 million roster bonus in 2017, but that he would have to be great to ultimately get that full amount.
After losing Beachum on Tuesday, the Steelers also lost former undrafted nose tackle Steve McLendon to the New York Jets. Early reports indicate that McLendon agreed to a deal with a max length of three years and a max value of $12 million. If true, McLendon just wasn’t going to get that kind of money from the Steelers being as he’s a base nose tackle in their defense who plays less than 33% of the total snaps.
The loss of McLendon now leaves the Steelers with a gaping hole in the middle of their base defense. Assuming the team doesn’t add a veteran free agent in the coming days or weeks, one would think they are willing to let third-year nose tackle Daniel McCullers have first crack at filling McLendon’s shoes. McCullers, who was drafted by the Steelers in the sixth-round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of Tennessee, has yet to play 200 total defensive snaps in his first two years in the league.
Even if McCullers is the initial heir apparent to McLendon in the Steelers defense, one would think the team will now address the position at some point during the 2016 NFL Draft. If that indeed winds up being the course of action, one would hope that potential draft pick would also be able to contribute as a backup nickel defensive lineman in order to spell starting defensive ends Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt.
While Beachum and McLendon were both far from being considered All-Pro players at their respective positions, they certainly were above average contributors during their careers in Pittsburgh and very inexpensive contributors at that.
No, in this age of free agency you can’t keep all of your players and Tuesday served as a reminder of that.