The Pittsburgh Steelers don’t have a history of being known for making big moves in free agency. Even when they do bring in players to be starters, they are usually young up-and-comers or savvy veterans who still have some tread left on the tires but will no longer command the highest salaries…ostensibly at least.
Their track record in recent years has not been great, however. Their free agent starters that they have been brought in have had a hard time staying on the field due to injuries, going back to Mike Mitchell five years ago and continuing with the man they brought in to replace him, Morgan Burnett.
Burnett missed much of training camp and the preseason due to soft-tissue injuries that were serious enough to result in him not being trusted to start the season opener over rookie first-round pick Terrell Edmunds, though he did play rotationally and as the dimebacker. He did start last week’s game.
But now he is dealing with further injury and ended the week of practice as a non-participant, listed as doubtful to play tomorrow night. For a player who already has a history of missing time in recent years due to injuries of a similar nature, it would be fair to say that Steelers fans at least are experiencing some buyer’s remorse.
I do wonder what the front office thinks about this history of free agents who have had repeated injury problems, including Joe Haden and Ladarius Green. Even players that they have acquired via trade have had the same issues, such as Brandon Boykin and Vance McDonald.
The Steelers have a nearly unblemished record in acquiring players from other teams that come to them as damaged goods. Most of them already had a history of struggling to stay on the field before the team acquired them, and that pattern would continue in Pittsburgh.
Burnett is just the latest. It’s likely that he will miss tomorrow’s game, and I can already hear the groans from the fans when it happens. Even I am starting to reach a point of frustration. While the team may not be able to afford the top free agents, taking their chances on talent that come with baggage results in them not even being on the field, which is worse than contributing below the line altogether.