One of the best free agent signings in the Kevin Colbert era was linebacker James Farrior, brought over from the New York Jets for the 2002 season. Farrior went on to have a stellar, multiple Super Bowl winning career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. From 2002 to 2011, Farrior started 154 games. Over that time, he racked up over 1000 tackles, 30 sacks, eight interceptions, and was twice named to the Pro Bowl.
In an alumni interview with Stan Savran on the Steelers’ YouTube channel, Farrior explained why he signed with Pittsburgh. Admittedly, the story isn’t as interesting as you might think. For Farrior, he didn’t have much of a choice.
“It was actually the only opportunity I had,” Farrior said. “Coach Cowher, they extended an offer to me. That was pretty much the only thing I had going for me at the time.”
It’s almost hard to believe Farrior had so little interest on the market. He became a free agent at just 26 years old, coming off a year in which he totaled 145 tackles in 16 starts for the New York Jets. After spending the bulk of his Jets’ career as a rotational player, Farrior seemed to be hitting his stride. Yet Pittsburgh was the only team who saw something in him. The Steelers signed him to a three-year deal. He would sign a pair of five-year extensions with the team throughout the rest of his career.
Though it was his only offer, Farrior was convinced Pittsburgh was the right place to call home.
“My agent Ralph Cindrich, he was leaning towards me signing with Pittsburgh. He had a lot of good things to say about the Rooney family. One thing he told me that stuck out to me is that these are loyal owners. If you do well by them, they will treat you right. Everything he said came true.”
Pittsburgh would be the last team Farrior would play for, spending the remainder of his career in black and gold. He was a key cog in the middle of that defense, part of those aggressive, physical, run-stopping front sevens that won Super Bowl XL against the Seahawks and XLIII over the Cardinals. Shoutout to the rest of the league for ignoring Farrior in free agency and allowing the Steelers to scoop in and pick him up.