The Mayans had it all wrong. The world was never going to end in 2012. But when Kevin Colbert starts getting a little loose with his checkbook? I’m running for the bunker.
2019 has been one of the busiest and biggest spending offseasons in Pittsburgh Steelers’ history. Some of that is natural and expected. Of course the team spent more now than they did in 2002. Salaries rise alongside with the cap. But it’s still more than what they’ve done in recent years and bucks their normal quiet, conservative approach to free agency. Contracts handed out to Steven Nelson, Donte Moncrief, and Mark Barron were reasonable relatively speaking but still a new approach from this front office. Unlike Green Bay, who has taken a similar turn, the Steelers didn’t require a GM change as their catalyst.
Let’s be clear. This is a good thing. The Steelers had to make a move in free agency. They didn’t have to get the top guy. Fit yourself for a straight-jacket if you sincerely thought Landon Collins or C.J. Mosley was actually going to come to Pittsburgh. But Colbert, like it or not, had to address the needs of this team.
So he got Nelson. That fills the glaring need at corner and allows the team to wait to draft one if they so choose. Moncrief isn’t at quiet that same level but gives the team flexibility; again, not compelled to take a receiver right away if it doesn’t work out. Barron’s situation is a little hazier but still a pragmatic move.
Those trio of signings, plus the players retained, set the organization up to maximize the draft. What position do they feel utterly obligated to take? Not corner. Not receiver. Inside linebacker is the most pressing need and now, with ten picks and those other holes temporarily plugged, they can make another aggressive move. Trading up for a top linebacker, likely Michigan’s Devin Bush, which seems to be something it seems they’re going to at least try to do next month.
Let’s say you don’t sign Nelson. Or even Moncrief. Instead, you bring in free agents scraping the bottom of the barrel. Can you go after a guy like Bush in the draft? Then how do you fix cornerback, receiver, and everything else that needs addressed? It’s a lose/lose. Either you manage to go up and get Bush with everything else broken or you don’t and have a repeat of 2018 – an underwhelming group at inside linebacker (now minus L.J. Fort) – while Colbert laments failing to fix the position yet again.
Really, Colbert’s bold, from his perspective, decisions was the most practical thing he could’ve done. Before the offseason began, I said you have every right to be upset if the front office didn’t make some aggressive moves. To do otherwise would be negligent and put this team in a hole they weren’t going to dig out of anytime soon. To their credit, they came out swinging.
Is it a home run? Nah. Score it a ground rule double. The pieces are in place to get this roster to home plate.