The Pittsburgh Steelers are now rolling toward Latrobe. Most seem to expect it to be a different sort of experience than usual. The grand entrances will probably be few and far between, for not the least of which being that the player with the most extravagant entrances, Antonio Brown, is no longer with the team.
But the differences this year won’t just be about the lack of helicopters and Rolls Royces, and things of that nature. The reality is that there is very little to no controversy, business or otherwise, as we get to the heart of the football portion of the offseason. Much in contrast to elsewhere in the league.
Down south, with the Jacksonville Jaguars, we see fourth-year cornerback Jalen Ramsey making a statement as he heads to training camp. Looking for a new contract, he literally pulled up in a Brinks truck, accessorized with a megaphone, his driver/hype man shouting, “y’all know what time it is…time to get that money”.
Jalen Ramsey’s entrance to training camp was…. Well it was..
— Ben Murphy (@BenMurphyTV) July 24, 2019
But at least he’s in training camp. Others are not. There is former first-overall pick Jadeveon Clowney, who now projected to play under the franchise tag this season for the Houston Texans has elected not to report. That ought to sound familiar, as running back Le’Veon Bell did that for the past two seasons. In his second year of skipping training camp, he ended up staying away for good, missing the entire season.
Then there is running back Melvin Gordon out west with the Los Angeles Chargers. Currently scheduled to play under his fifth-year option as a former first-round draft pick, the Pro Bowler has also elected not to report to training camp even though he is under contract and will be fined for doing so.
Gordon has said that he will stay away for as long as it takes, whether that means the Chargers giving him a new deal or forcing them to trade him to a team that would—much like Brown forced the Steelers to trade him back in March.
I frankly don’t keep up with these sorts of things around the league as much as many other people do, so I’m sure I’m missing things. Even less high-profile, and less dramatic scenarios are playing out, such as Duke Johnson’s continued quest to get the Cleveland Browns to trade him, though he is reporting.
What are the Steelers’ concerns? There are players who want contracts, of course, but nobody is demanding them. Sean Davis I’m sure would be content to hit free agency next year. The same perhaps for Javon Hargrave. And Mike Hilton understands his scenario and its limitations.
Indeed, there has in contrast seemed to be a concerted effort on the team’s part to make this about as drama-free a football offseason as they can make it, where the only controversy is concerning the battles for starting jobs and sub-package roles. I hope that as Saint Vincent College begins to fill up, we take a moment to appreciate that, because it wasn’t long ago at all that we were right there in the thick of the absurdity.