In the midst of arguably one of the most tumultuous offseasons in recent memory in terms of the organization’s reputation—at least within the media—the Pittsburgh Steelers have had little issue being more active in free agency than they pretty much ever have been before.
The team has signed three players in free agency so far, all of whom project to be starters, or at least very meaningful contributors. Cornerback Steven Nelson signed a three-year, $25.5 million contract. Donte Moncrief signed for two years, $9 million. And linebacker Mark Barron joined the club for $12 million over two seasons.
None of them seemed phased by the things that they had been hearing on the television about the Steelers and their locker room, their general manager calling grown men kids, and this and that. Nelson even called it all crap.
Barron was officially signed and introduced to the media earlier today, and when asked why he signed with the Steelers—other than the money, and opportunity, of course—he had a clear answer: the team’s head coach, Mike Tomlin.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) March 19, 2019
“I’ve always had a lot of respect for Mike Tomlin, and just the opportunity to play for him”, he said when asked about his decision to come to Pittsburgh and what attracted him to the team. “Just the things I heard about him, I felt like it might be a good fit for me, so, I’m here”.
“Just the way he goes about things and how straight up and down he is about his work and the way he handles his players and communicates with his players”, he said when asked to elaborate. “I feel like I’m a similar type of person. I’m straight up and down. I like things to be on the table and clear cut, and I operate in that fashion, so the opportunity to work for somebody who operates in the same fashion as me, I felt like that would be a good fit for me”.
There were many fans who were legitimately worried that the Steelers might have difficulties signing free agents this offseason, in a year in which they seemed far more likely to actually do so than normal, due to all of the drama generated by some former players.
Suffice it to say that the hard evidence points strongly to the contrary. Granted, players who are just given new contracts will be more motivated to say nice things, sure. But one doesn’t have to volunteer a fondness for any one specific aspect.
Tomlin has been regarded for years as a ‘player’s coach’, a term with which he has mixed feelings due to the connotations that it could resonate in a certain light. He has been well-liked by players over the years, that much is true. It seems as though his reputation in that respect remains intact.