As of today, there’s exactly one month to go before the start of the 2017 free agent signing period. With that date now on the horizon, it’s time to look back at the Pittsburgh Steelers free agents from last year that wound up signing elsewhere during the 2016 offseason.
Kelvin Beachum – Beachum signed a five year, $45 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars on March 19, 2016. The former Steelers seventh round draft pick started 15 games for the Jaguars during the 2016 season and played 92.0% of all offensive snaps with various degrees of success and failure. The contract that Beachum signed with Jaguars came with a four-year option in 2017 and the deadline to pick that up is now less than a week away. Should the Jaguars decide against picking up the option, Beachum will become a free agent once again.
Steve McLendon – McLendon signed a three year, $10.5 million contract with the New York Jets on March 21, 2016 and proceeded to register 28 total tackles that included 3.5 sacks during his first season in New York. It’s work noting, however, that McLendon only played 36.6% of all defensive snaps for the Jets during the 2016 regular season and that he missed the final five games due to a hamstring injury. It will be interesting to see if the Jets retain McLendon during the offseason being as the Steelers former undrafted free agent is currently scheduled to earn $3.125 million in 2017.
Sean Spence – Spence, the Steelers former third-round draft pick, signed a one year, $2.5 million dollar contract with the Tennessee Titans last March. He wound up playing 46.2% of all defensive snaps in his first year in Tennessee and recorded career-highs in both total tackles (54) and sacks (3) in addition to forcing one fumble and defensing three passes. He played in 15 games of which he started 6 of them. Spence will once again be an unrestricted free agent in 2017
Valentino Blake – Blake also landed in Tennessee along with Spence and he signed a one-year contract worth $1.5 million. While the cornerback formerly known as Antwon Blake did play in all 16 games for the Titians in 2016, he only started one of them and ended the season playing just 33.6% of all defensive snaps. Blake registered 42 total tackles and 5 defensed passes for the Titans. Like Spence, Blake will once again be an unrestricted free agent in 2017.
Terence Garvin – Garvin, who signed a one-year contract with the Washington Redskins last March, played all of 57 total defensive snaps during the 2016 season as he was primarily used on special teams. Of the 16 total tackles that Garvin registered last season, 8 of them came on special teams and he was also credited with just a half a sack. Garvin will be an unrestricted free agent in 2017.
Cam Thomas – Thomas, who signed with the Los Angeles Rams last June, failed to make the team’s initial 53-man roster out of training camp. However, just a few days after he was released by the Rams last September, the team re-signed him in a move that was probably made to avoid guaranteeing his 2016 salary. Thomas went on to play in all 16 regular season games for the Rams and played 36.1% of all defensive snaps. The Steelers former defensive tackle registered 15 total tackles during the 2016 regular season and that included one sack. Thomas is now scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in 2017.
Jordan Todman – Todman signed a one-year minimum contract with the Indianapolis Colts last March and wound up dressing for all 16 regular season games. While the Steelers former running back only played 13 offensive snaps for the Colts during the 2016 regular season, he did play extensively on special teams and returned 16 kickoffs for 478 yards and a 99-yard touchdown. Todman also registered 7 total special teams tackles for the Colts in 2016. Todman, like several other players on this list, will be an unrestricted free agent again in 2017.
Brandon Boykin – After initially signing a one-year contract with the Carolina Panthers last March, Boykin was released less than two months later. The cornerback wound up signing a one-year contract with the Chicago Bears just prior to the start of their training camp but quickly landed on their Reserve/Injured list in early August as a result of a pectoral injury. He will once again be an unrestricted free agent in 2017.
Will Johnson – Johnson, the Steelers former tight end, signed a two-year, $2.3 million contract with the New York Giants last April but failed to play a single snap during the 2016 regular season as he was placed on the team’s Reserve/Injured list early last September with a stinger injury. It will be interesting to see if Johnson is cut loose by the Giants in the coming months with one-year remaining on his contract.
Byron Stingily – Stingily, who signed a one-year contract with the Giants last April, found himself on the team’s Reserve/Injured list in late August as a result of a concussion. He was ultimately released by the Giants last September.
In case you’re curious, the Steelers are currently projected to receive just one fifth-round compensatory draft pick in the coming weeks as a result of what transpired last year during the free agency signing period. The league doesn’t announce awarded compensatory draft picks until sometime in March so we’ll have to wait about a month before that information is known.