Are the Pittsburgh Steelers done signing outside unrestricted free agents until after the prime signing period ends? While we won’t know the answer to that question for several more weeks, the history of the franchise under the leadership of general manager Kevin Colbert reveals that we shouldn’t expect much to happen in the way of outside free agent signings between now and June 1.
According to my research, the Steelers have only signed 14 outside unrestricted free agents past March 20th dating back to 2000, Colbert’s first year in Pittsburgh and only 10 from April 1st on. Additionally, only 3 of those 10 players were signed to multi-year contracts.
While I have now probably ruined your Sunday, the Steelers have made three significant signings during the Colbert era post April 1st with the best one being linebacker James Farrior, who signed a three-year, $5.4 million contract with the Steelers on 4/5/2002. Farrior went on to start and play in 154 regular season games in Pittsburgh over the course of the next 10 years and he currently remains one of the best free agent bargains that Colbert has ever made during his time in Pittsburgh.
In addition to adding a high-profile free agent player such as Farrior after the calendar had flipped over to the month April, the Steelers also signed safety Brent Alexander and linebacker Mike Jones to multi-year contracts well after the start of signing periods.
Alexander, who signed a two-year, $1.29 million contract with the Steelers on 5/30/2000, went on to start and play in 64 total regular season games during a span of four seasons. Jones, however, who signed a three-year, $2.75 million contract with the Steelers on 4/20/2001, only played in 15 regular season games and that was because then-rookie Kendrell Bell beat him out for a starting inside linebacker position that year during the preseason. Because of that, Jones was released by the Steelers in June of 2002.
As for what might happen from this point on with the Steelers when it comes to them potentially signing outside unrestricted free agents prior to June 1st, it’s obvious that they are looking for an inside linebacker now that Sean Spence and Terence Garvin have signed elsewhere. They recently brought in free agents Mike Morgan and Spencer Paysinger for visits on Friday, but both left unsigned. On Saturday, Morgan re-signed with the Seattle Seahawks, so the ship has now officially sailed when it comes to him landing in Pittsburgh.
In conclusion, should the Steelers wind up signing another outside free agent player or two prior to June 1st, I wouldn’t expect any big names and certainly not a player who could potentially wind up starting on either side of the football in 2016.
History Of Steelers Outside Free Agent Signings Late March- June (2000-2015)
|5/30/2000||S||Brent Alexander||Panthers||64||64||2-years, $1.29M|
|3/23/2001||S||Mike Logan||Jaguars||73||17||3-years, $3.1M|
|4/20/2001||LB||Mike Jones||Rams||21||1||3-years, $2.75M|
|3/25/2002||K||Todd Peterson||Chiefs||10||0||4-years, $3.975M|
|4/5/2002||LB||James Farrior||Jets||154||154||3-years, $5.4M|
|5/26/2004||CB||Willie Williams||Seahawks||20||11||1-year, $760K|
|4/17/2007||DT||Nick Eason||Browns||55||11||1-year, $510K|
|4/24/2009||CB||Keiwan Ratliff||Colts||9||0||1-year, $620K|
|5/1/2009||WR||Shaun McDonald||Lions||4||0||1-year, $620K|
|4/10/2012||TE||Leonard Pope||Chiefs||16||2||1-year, $725K|
|4/26/2013||RB||LaRod Stephens-Howling||Cardinals||1||0||1-year, $780K|
|3/24/2014||LB||Arthur Moats||Bills||32||20||1-year, $795K|
|3/28/2014||RB||LeGarrette Blount||Patriots||11||0||2-years, $3.85M|
|4/2/2014||WR||Darrius Heyward-Bey||Colts||32||5||1-year, $795K|