WARNING: Free Agents the Steelers Should Avoid
Ah yes, one of the best times of the football year is upon us. NFL free agency begins in the late afternoon on Thursday, March 9th.
Every season, Steelers fans wonder and wish about the possible new additions to the city’s beloved franchise. Pittsburgh never seems to really “break the bank” or “back the truck up” for anybody in particular.
But they have been players in free agency during the Kevin Colbert/Mike Tomlin era.
We all know of recent free agent splashes such as Mike Mitchell, as well as players who were signed to return for a second Steelers term like William Gay and Antwaan Randel El. There’s the Ladarius Green deal, which is still up in the air (depending on if you’re a glass half full or half empty kind of person) but was one of the biggest move the Steelers made in years.
Overall (aside from Cam Thomas) Colbert and Tomlin usually do enough homework to know who is worth bringing in from outside the organization. However, that doesn’t mean every free agent is worth signing to the team. That’s why I compiled this list of “free agents to avoid”.
This list is by no means for the front office to read, but more so for the common fan, and the common yinzer, who think every free agent is a fit for the Steelers.
#1. Kenny Stills – wide receiver
The Steelers have already been linked to two free agent wide receivers: Terrell Pryor, and Brandon Marshall. Now, those two names are big enough dreams as it is, but Kenny Stills is already known to have a market awaiting him of $10 million per season.
No thanks. In fact, that is about the money Pryor is hoping for.
I happen to think that’s a high price tag for both men, but Stills especially. Kenny is the infamous “one-trick pony” that you can find in just about every draft. Yes, he’s very fast, but so are a lot of soon-to-be rookie receivers.
#2 Nick Perry – outside linebacker
The Green Bay linebacker was linked to Pittsburgh last year, but nothing became of it, as he was retained by Green Bay.
Perry had an impressive sack total at first glance (11) but when you take a closer look at some of the offensive lines he succeeded against (Giants, Bears, Jaguars) the total doesn’t seem so eye-catching. That “11” in his 2016 sack column will make Perry too rich for the Steelers blood.
I say let the Browns overpay him!
#3 Latavius Murray – running back
I’ll admit that I was of the group of people who fell for the flash and pizzazz of Murray’s rookie season. The kid ripped off a few long runs, and we all thought the Raiders stumbled upon their next franchise back.
Stunningly, that hasn’t been the case for Latavius.
He had a high touchdown total (12) in 2016 because he was the Raiders goal line back. That’s about it.
Like Nick Perry, I believe Murray will get overpaid to be someone’s “feature back”. I’m fairly certain that will be a mistake. T
here’s rumblings of the Steelers being interested in a backup for Le’Veon Bell, if DeAngelo Williams cannot return. However, Murray will be much too expensive, and I doubt he wants to be anyone’s backup.
#4 Kenny Britt – wide receiver
Kenny Britt may have “revitalized” his career in 2016, but I’m not buying it.
The guy hasn’t lived up to his first round billing, despite a few flashes in the pan in his younger days with the Titans. I’m aware that he put up 1,000 yards in 2016, but that was the first time in his 8 year career!
For a first round pick, that’s unacceptable.
Britt probably turned it on for this last ditch effort to cash out in the NFL, and I feel comfortable knowing that the Steelers likely won’t take his bait. (But the Cowboys are interested in paying him!)
#5 Brandon Flowers – cornerback
Steelers fans (myself included) seem to get extra-excited when a cornerback has hit the open market.
Well, we can all pump the breaks on this one.
Flowers had not one, but two concussions during the 2016 campaign, and never quite played like himself when given the opportunity. Given his age (31) and his concussion history, the Steelers should stay far away. (Assuming Flowers doesn’t retire.)
#6 Jared Cook – tight end
Pittsburgh tried to solve their tight end woes in free agency last year, by adding Ladarius Green.
Say what you will about that, but Cook would be like how the Green signing has gone, but worse. Jared Cook has been disappointing throughout his injury-plagued career, except for when playing with Aaron Rodgers in 2016.
I think not.
I would rather wait on Ladarius, and look elsewhere, like the draft, for tight end depth. I’ll take a hard pass on Jared Cook.
#7 Morris Claiborne – cornerback
Claiborne is an interesting case. I believe his NFL career could still be on track.
However, given his first round draft status, and coming off his best season, I expect his price tag to be much too high for Pittsburgh.
Claiborne fits the bill of what the Steelers seem to be looking for in their corners now (can press man, decent length) but again, I think he will see more money from one of the teams with more cap space.
I’m actually open to Pittsburgh bringing in a cornerback to push Ross Cockrell, and maybe even upgrade the spot: but only at the right price.
#8 Russel Okung – tackle
Another player the Steelers had interest in last off-season, the need for Okung’s services has become non-existent. Alejandro Villanueva had an encouraging 2016 season, to the point where he looks like he can be the Steelers left tackle for years to come.
Pittsburgh also drafted Jerald Hawkins in the 4th round of last year’s draft. Hawkins was showing real promise before being placed on season-ending IR.
If the Steelers feel the need for more depth at the tackle spots, there’s always rounds 6 and 7 of the upcoming draft. I would rather have a young prospect at backup tackle than an over-priced veteran.
#9 Anquan Boldin – wide receiver
I respect Anquan Boldin playing at the age of 36, and still wanting to play at 37, however, I sure hope it’s not in Pittsburgh.
There is no need, or fit, for Boldin in Todd Haley’s offense.
At his age, Boldin mainly plays in the slot now. In case you didn’t see him in 2016, the Steelers have a fantastic slot receiver in Eli Rogers. Rogers and Antonio Brown eat up enough short-to-intermediate passes already: Boldin would be starved for targets… and playing time.
He might end up back in Baltimore, but so be it.
#10 Mike Adams – safety
Not the tackle. I’m talking about the veteran safety from the Colts.
Adams is set to hit the open market and played last season at the age of 35. Putting Adams on this list might prove unnecessary if he hangs it up, but I had to mention him since I strongly disliked the Will Allen days.
When Will Allen was the starting safety, it felt like the team was okay with being average at that position. I know Sean Davis and Mike Mitchell are secure as the starters, but I don’t even want a Will Allen 2.0 backing them up.
As far as additions to the safety position in 2017, give me youth or give me death!
Despite this list I still mean what I said earlier: NFL free agency is one of the best times of the football year! I’m ready and willing to welcome new additions to the Steelers with open arms.
Just, none of the names above!