We learned yesterday via a report from Josina Anderson that free agent lineman Geoff Schwartz visited with the Pittsburgh Steelers yesterday. Admittedly, it was a free agent business that got my eyebrow raising a bit, as I had assumed that the team would already have been content with their offensive line depth—in fact, it was a topic that I had just written about.
But the opportunity to add a lineman with the talent level of Schwartz at a potential bargain is an opportunity that is certainly worth considering, and would go a long way toward cementing a very high quality level of depth for the Steelers across the line.
Though just a former seventh-round draft pick in 2008, Schwartz has been a part of some history. He was with the Panthers when current Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams was one half of the league’s first ever duo to each rush for at least 1100 yards in the same season. admittedly, he started only three games that season, but was a 16-game starter the following year, at both guard and tackle.
But the following season, in 2011, he suffered hip injury that led to his spending the entire year on injured reserve, which would become a recurring theme in his career, and the reason that he is available after serving just half of a four-year, $16.8 million contract with the Giants.
After the 2011 season, Schwartz played a limited role in Adrian Peterson’s 2000-yard season, not starting but logging over 150 snaps. Showing that he could return to health and play well, he then signed with the Chiefs on a one-year deal in 2013, where he entered the starting lineup late in the year, including a start in the playoffs, at right guard, where he really began to be highly regarded.
It was the following offseason during which he signed with the Giants, expecting to help the team rebuild its offensive line, but a broken toe had him start the 2014 season on the short-term injured reserve list ultimately playing just two games. Last season, he broke his leg 11 games into the season and once again wound up on injured reserve.
On a snap-for-snap basis, Schwartz has been a very good player, but his string of injuries has kept him from being consistent. He has only had a 16-game season three times in his seven professional seasons. Which is why he is evidently currently available on the secondary market.
Given the recent re-signing of Ramon Foster, it would certainly seem likely that the Steelers are not looking at Schwartz as a starter, even if he might have the ability to do so. He has experience at both guard and tackle, however, and, would make a tremendously valuable game day reserve.
It might also be worth considering that Cody Wallace, who started 16 games for the Steelers at center last season as an injury replacement, is in the final year of his contract and will be turning 32 in November, while Schwartz is a bit younger, soon to turn 30 in the summer. The fact that he hasn’t played any center, to the best of my knowledge, however, complicates things.