It won’t be long before the Pittsburgh Steelers make the release of veteran safety Mike Mitchell official. It also won’t be long until we find out if fellow safety J.J. Wilcox will be retained through the start of the new league year as. As we wait for that news, along with news of other potential cuts, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette still contends that the Steelers potential plan is to move former second-round draft pick Sean Davis to free safety for the 2018 season because he has better range.
There’s been quite a bit of speculation so far this offseason as to which Steelers defensive backs currently under contract might be moved to free safety and most of it has revolved around Davis and young cornerbacks Cameron Sutton and Brian Allen being the candidates. If indeed the Steelers current plans are to move Davis, Sutton or Allen to free safety this offseason, then the team would almost certainly be in the market for a strong safety-type moving forward.
As far as potential strong safety free agent candidates go, Kenny Vaccaro, who was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the first-round of the 2013 NFL Draft out of Texas, would probably be near or at the top of the Steelers want list.
Vaccaro played a lot of strong safety, some free safety as well as a pseudo-linebacker role over the years with the Saints and that included him playing some nickelback and thus covering slot wide receivers most of his rookie season. He enters free agency with 67 career starts, 385 total tackles, eight interceptions, 7.5 sacks and four forced fumbles during his career. He has, however, had a few minor injuries so far during his career in addition to a four-game suspension for a reported positive Adderall test.
For what it’s worth, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was reportedly at Vaccaro’s pro day way back in 2013. Additionally, the Steelers like free agents who were former early-round draft picks with upside who are coming off their rookie contracts. While you can easily create a small Steelers free agent strong safety wishlist that includes Vaccaro, one would think the Texas product would be at the top of it.
Even if the Steelers were to sign a free agent safety of some kind during the upcoming period, it still likely wouldn’t prevent then from addressing the position at some point during the draft.
The Steelers obviously already have some sort a plan in place to replace Mitchell and that plan could become clearer to us in the next week during the early stages of free agency.