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Friday, February 27, 2015

Second wave of free agency is heating up

The second - or actually first - wave of free agency is heating up as teams rid themselves of veterans players with big contracts in order to get themselves in line with what the projected salary cap will be.

Because of that, in the past week, we've seen guys such as A.J. Hawk, Harry Douglas, Steven Jackson, Jacoby Jones and Mathias Kiwanuka cut loose in the past few days.

And the cuts will continue to come.

The good thing about these cuts is that other teams are able to sign these guys immediately instead of waiting until the start of the March 10 free agency period.

They also do not affect compensatory picks the following year since they aren't true free agents.

The bad thing? Often times the players being released are aging veterans who only have a year or two of football left in their bodies.

Still, the Steelers delved into this market last year and came away with Brice McCain and Lance Moore.

There could be an edge rusher or corner who just might interest the team this time around.

I continue to hear that Kansas City might have to part ways with Tamba Hali if the Chiefs have to come through with a big contract for Justin Houston - which they will.

If so, the Steelers would be very, very interested in Hali, even though, at 31, he doesn't fit their typical MO in free agency.

They could plug Hali, into their lineup opposite Jarvis Jones while also grooming his potential replacement, who will come in the draft.

A recent cut who might interest the Steelers is Jacoby Jones.

Mike Tomlin has always liked Jones as a return man and the Steelers, with their top three receiver set, wouldn't be forced to play Jones at a receiver position. He'd be No. 4.

He might also like a shot at playing the Ravens a couple of times per season after being released by the team.

The Steelers have a need for a return man and Jones remains one of the best in the business, even though he had some fumble issues last season. He hasn't been a fumbler throughout the course of his career, so last year could have been an anomaly.

@ Greg Bedard wrote on SI.com how it's amazing that the Steelers are tight against the cap each season.

He then pointed to the recent restructuring of deals of Marcus Gilbert, Maurkice Pouncey and Mike Mitchell as bad business.

Not really. The Steelers cleared $9.5 million with those moves and it's actually beneficial to both parties to do so.

In all three cases, the Steelers aren't moving a ton of money into the future. And they're just converting some salary into signing bonus. It's not that big of a deal.

For the players, they get a lump sum of money now instead of having to wait for it.

Bedard points to the team allowing Emmanuel Sanders to leave last year and possibly doing the same with Jason Worilds this year.

But the Steelers weren't going to pay Sanders big money last year - he got $15 million over three years - when they already had big money tied up in Antonio Brown.

Sanders went to Denver and had a good season. Good for him. But he wouldn't have had the same kind of year in Pittsburgh, not with Brown firmly established. The Steelers just don't throw the ball as much as the Broncos.

And despite Brown and Sanders being good friends, there's still a bit of a competition there between the two, who were selected in the same draft. Always has been, always will be.

As for Worilds, I think he's a good player. I think he wants to return to Pittsburgh and they want him to return. And I believe even if he does become a free agent in a couple of weeks, there's still a good shot he'll return to Pittsburgh.

That's what that $9.5 million in cap space that was just cleared up is for, re-signing Worilds or his replacement.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

You might say Tomlin is drawn to/captivated by Jacoby Jones. To the point where he becomes unaware of himself and his surroundings.

I agree the restructures aren't a big deal. The initial signing bonuses were comparatively low, and those roster bonuses were obviously put in place with converting in mind. No different really than had they got a higher signing bonus to begin with. Now if they restructure them again next year, Bedard would have a point.

The mistake with Sanders wasn't in letting him walk last year. It was in not letting him go to NE the year before, losing out on a R3 pick. They rented him for 8-8, for the same money they could've retained Lewis for long term.

Not sure about Worilds coming back after testing the market. Even if the annual average is competitive to what the Steelers are offering, I don't think they can compete on the rest of how the deal is structured. Other teams don't have hang ups on guarantees, and can offer much more up front. Only way I see him coming back is if the interest isn't there or what he expected.

adamg said...

Steven Jackson seems like he'd be a nice back up to Bell.

Anonymous said...

"Sanders went to Denver and had a good season. Good for him. But he wouldn't have had the same kind of year in Pittsburgh, not with Brown firmly established. The Steelers just don't throw the ball as much as the Broncos."

DL: We actually passed it 5 more times than the Broncos this past season.

Dale Lolley said...

Last season, yes. Traditionally, no.

Dale Lolley said...

And I don't know how much Steven Jackson has left in the tank. Didn't look like much last season.

Anonymous said...

I'd rather grab Reggie Bush off the scrap pile. We need someone to catch the ball out of the backfield and do the same type of things as Bell. Then draft D. Johnson in the 4th or 5th as he is pretty much Bell 2.0 minus the glide step.

Anonymous said...

GREAT news ... Lamar Woodley will be available!

And I just saved 15% on my car insurance by switching to Geico!

Tom said...

Dale is AJ Hawk out of the Steelers price range? Have to admit I haven't followed his play the past couple seasons so there could be a drop off in talent, but I think he'd be a great mentor for the young guys (he and Shazier are both OSU alums) and solidify the depth at LB.

Dale Lolley said...

They already have too much tied up at inside linebacker to even consider Hawk.

marc said...

I guess the steelers are going to enter free agency with one OLB under contract...very surprised.

Pistol said...

Dale

Do you think they would have any interest in backups for Bell like Moreno, Helu or Hillis?? All should be at a decent rate and have been productive.

Dale Lolley said...

Helu has some fumbling issues, Moreno injury issues and Hillis heart issues.

Helu might be the best of that group.

Joe Jones said...

I'd rather see a pass-catcher like Darren McFadden.

Bells proven he can handle the goal line, and it's better not to change your play style just because Bell needs a breather.

I think McFadden could work out very nicely here. Oakland did him no favors.

Joe Jones said...

It's okay to be wrong dale.

Joe Jones said...

I'd wait until after the draft to sign a RB.

Yeldon leads a great group of mid-round talent.

Still McFadden or D-Williams wouldn't be the worst options.

Big No on S-Jax. He's done.

Joe Jones said...

Pass catcher: yes
Reggie Bush: no

Joe Jones said...

Those might be the 3 worst options if you were to rank available running backs reverse-order.