While the subsequent selection of Devin Bush in the 2019 NFL Draft somewhat mitigated his value, the Pittsburgh Steelers bringing Mark Barron in free agency was a big move at the time. He is currently working his way back from an injury that caused him to miss the last game, but he played a lot in the first five weeks and was trending in a positive direction, coming off his best game.
Barron was the seventh-overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. He broke into the league as a safety, where he played at Alabama, taken by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But largely due to internal conflicts and regime change, they decided to move on from him during his third season, trading him to the Los Angeles Rams.
In the middle of his first full season there, linebacker Alec Ogletree went down with an injury. The coaching staff threw Barron in there, and now he’s been playing linebacker for about five years. But now he’s doing it for the Steelers. Which is still somewhat surprising to him.
Not only did he tell Teresa Varley for the Steelers’ website that he to this day still does not understand how and why he ended up being traded by the Buccaneers, he also said that he believes the Rams were still interested in bringing him back this year after they released him as part of a salary cap move.
“I had been there for a while”, he told Varley. Since the middle of 2014, to be more specific. “I know it’s a business and I had been injured a lot. I believe they still wanted me, they thought I would fall back into their hands”.
He didn’t, of course, because there was still a market for him, and he accepted the Steelers’ offer of two years for $12 million early on in free agency, where he said that he is happy to be. He’s working with Devin Bush and Vince Williams, and more importantly, he’s healthier than he had been, even though he’s ironically working his way back from a minor one now.
“I had been injured, I had three surgeries, couldn’t practice during the week, just play on Sundays”, he said about the end of his tenure with the Rams. He missed four games in 2018. “They felt like they couldn’t trust my availability. I understand that. I have no hard feelings”.
Barron had his struggles when he first got on the field in Pittsburgh, but he had really started to settle down in the last couple of games. If he can continue that progress as he gets more comfortable with the defense, it will only further solidify that unit as the nucleus of this team.