When it comes to free agency, the Pittsburgh Steelers have very rarely dipped more than a toe in the pool, though they have had quite a bit of success with players ranging from Kevin Greene to Mike Mitchell making significant contributions to the team.
But the Steelers have also had their fair share of players move on from the team to join another, and as you might imagine, their range of results is quite expansive. The team has lost some notable players just this past year in Lawrence Timmons, Markus Wheaton, and Jarvis Jones.
Over the course of the summer leading up to training camp, as suggested by one of our readers, I’m going to be taking a look at the post-Steelers careers of some of the team’s most notable free agency departures.
Player: T Kelvin Beachum
Years in Pittsburgh: 4
Signed with: Jaguars in 2016; Jets in 2017
15 starts for Jaguars
The Steelers took a flyer on SMU left tackle Kelvin Beachum with the last of their four picks in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft, but in the long run, he proved to be a better left tackle than Mike Adams, the one they drafted in the second round that year.
While neither were intended to be starters as rookies, Adams opened up his second year at left tackle while Beachum spent some time rotating at both tackle spots. After four games, Adams was benched in favor of Beachum, and he remained in the lineup for the next two years until an ACL tear ended his tenure in Pittsburgh.
Six games into the 2015 season, Beachum tore his ACL and went on injured reserve. Earlier that summer, the team tried to work out a long-term extension with the fourth-year player heading into the final year of his rookie contract, but he rejected it.
Due to his injury, the Steelers were able to get a look at Alejandro Villanueva, with whom they are now in negotiations for a long-term extension. Meanwhile, Beachum the following spring signed a tiered contract with Jacksonville that opened with a one-year, $5 million season with a club option that would expand it four additional years for $40 million.
The former Steeler beat out former first-round draft pick Luke Joeckel to be the Jaguars to open the season as the starting left tackle, but things would go downhill from there. His play even to start with had not yet returned to his 2014 level, and in the second game of the season he suffered a concussion that caused him to miss the next game.
While he returned one game later and ultimately played in and started 15 games, Beachum was clearly not yet fully healthy after tearing his ACL in mid-October 2015. The Jaguars after the season declined to pick up the four-year option, making him a free agent again.
As of this summer, Beachum is now looking to return to form with another new team, signing a three-year, $24 million deal with the Jets. I will be very curious to see how he looks this season another year removed from that knee injury.