It was just a couple of days ago that the Pittsburgh Steelers’s free agent class had been largely unscathed through most of the first week of the beginning of the new league year. But over the course of the past few days, the team has seen five of their own signed to other teams in quick succession, some more significant than others, admittedly, albeit all of them chip away at their depth.
Tackle Kelvin Beachum was the first domino to fall, and was also the least likely to return to Pittsburgh. He signed a one-year contract that includes a club option that could activate an additional four years worth $40. The Steelers opted for a much more affordable route in securing depth and competition at the position.
Next in line was another significant signing in starting nose tackle Steve McLendon. Though the Steelers have been in his corner since picking him up as an undrafted free agent in 2009, the front office and coaching staff recognized that his value to the team likely would not be what it is to others with their moving further toward a nickel-oriented defense.
Over the past two days, Pittsburgh has also seen Terence Garvin, a key special teams inside linebacker, sign with the Redskins, while inside linebacker Sean Spence and cornerback Antwon Blake have both signed with the Titans to rejoin their former defensive coordinator, Dick LeBeau, who is serving in that capacity and as an assistant head coach in Tennessee.
While Blake was a primary starting cornerback for the Steelers last year, his loss might not be the most significant in the group—and is undoubtedly being hailed as a positive development for many Steelers fans, who believed that he should have been released last year while he played through injuries.
Blake is capable of being a solid depth corner and is a very good special teams player, but the Steelers do have other cornerbacks in the pipeline. The linebackers are beginning to look a little thinner than they may have counted upon, however.
Considering that they only have one inside linebacker with experience signed beyond the 2016 season at the moment, it would not be a surprise to see the Steelers address the position now at some point during the offseason, either in free agency or in the draft, even if they have gone into seasons with less in the past.
Among this group of players are three who were primary starters for the Steelers last year, one on offense and two on defense, as well as a core backup in Spence and a special teams ace in Garvin.
Some of these losses might not seem like the most significant in the world, but they will all need to be replaced in some form or fashion, whether it comes internally or through outside additions. Beachum’s loss has already been addressed, but the others likely leave work yet to be done.