The safety market was slow-moving this offseason, so much that a number of 2017 starters had to wait until training camp before they were able to find a new team. Others had to wait until all the way into the regular season. Former Pro Bowler Eric Reid only just last week signed with the Carolina Panthers.
Now former Pittsburgh Steelers starter Mike Mitchell has found a home, as he has now signed with the Indianapolis Colts.
The Steelers released the 10th-year veteran back in March, which saved the team several million in cap space. They chose to move on, signing veteran Morgan Burnett in free agency and then selecting Terrell Edmunds in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. So far, Burnett has missed three of his first five games with his new team, but Edmunds has been there starting in his place.
The Colts have a need at safety after they had two go down with injuries in Clayton Geathers and Mattias Farley. Geathers is their starting strong safety, while Farley is his direct backup. They also have Malik Hooker, George Odum, and Corey Moore on the roster listed as free safeties.
Mitchell comes to the Colts with five years of starting experience, including the past four seasons with the Steelers. He signed a five-year, $25 million deal with Pittsburgh in free agency during the spring of 2014, replacing Ryan Clark at free safety.
Over his four seasons in Pittsburgh, he recorded four interceptions, including three in 2015. He also had nine passes defensed and two forced fumbles to go along with a career-high 80 tackles. It was a borderline Pro Bowl-worthy performance from him that season, but really the only one of his four years with the Steelers that stood out.
The 2017 season in particular was a frustrating one for both player and team. In a career riddled with injury issues, he suffered a foot injury early in training camp, going on to miss all of the preseason. He returned to practice at the start of the regular season but was rotated in and out the first couple of games, going on to miss three games later on, the only games he missed in Pittsburgh.
Mitchell went unsigned from March through October, but he had a few visits, including one with the Cardinals just before training camp and another with the Bengals a few weeks ago. Back in June, he talked about how slow the safety market had become and wondered if there was more to it.
According to Gerry Dulac, the team elected to release him in March because they believed he was unable athletically to do what they would ask of him any longer, largely due to the injuries that he has suffered over the years. For his part, he previously claimed that he is fully healthy and has plenty of speed remaining.