It wasn’t so long ago this offseason that it was a bad time to be a former Pittsburgh Steelers player. Of course the Steelers turned a number of players into former members, releasing or failing to re-sign a number of them. But as training camps opened yesterday, we got a lot of good news on the former player front.
That new would be headlined by wide receiver Eli Rogers, who in fact re-signed with Pittsburgh, which seemed to be the intention all along from the Steelers’ perspective. The fourth-year player suffered a torn ACL in mid-January in the Divisional Round loss.
Rogers was scheduled to be a restricted free agent in 2018, but became unrestricted when the team did not offer him a tender, perhaps due to the injury. Even though he is still in the final stages of rehab for the knee injury, they brought him back into the fold to prepare for the upcoming season.
Outside linebacker Arthur Moats also found a new home where many former Steelers have found a new home, signing with the Arizona Cardinals. Since 2008, that organization has a long history of ties to Pittsburgh, and signing Moats, who spent the past four years in Pittsburgh, continues that.
An even older name is Shamarko Thomas, who last played for the Steelers in 2016. A 2013 fourth-round draft pick, he was not re-signed after his rookie deal was completed. He spent time with the New York Jets and ended up with the Buffalo Bills in 2017. Yesterday, he signed a contract with the Indianapolis Colts.
While those two players were able to find contracts yesterday, another seems to be taking the first steps toward finding another job. Former starting free safety Mike Mitchell, now 31, also visited the Cardinals, which included a physical, though he appears to have gone unsigned.
That doesn’t mean that a deal won’t come for him in the coming days with Arizona, but even if it doesn’t, it is the first visit that he has taken since the Steelers released him back in March. Three other defensive backs that the team also released had already found work, including safeties Robert Golden and J.J. Wilcox.
There are still a number of notable players at the safety position who remain unsigned, which when I started writing this piece included Tre Boston, who was regarded as one of the top names on the market when free agency first opened back in March. But he literally signed just after writing this. And that probably means there will be no deal from Arizona for Mitchell.
Now that training camps have opened around the league, we should see an increased amount of activity on the free agent front for the handfuls of notable players who have remained unsigned up to this point in the offseason.
After all, there is not a lot of incentive for either players or teams to sign deals after minicamp is over, because what follows is a long stretch of vacation. Now that football is back, that goes for the unsigned free agents as well. Brandon Boykin is just one of the many hoping to find another home in the next couple of weeks.