5 Smoldering Questions on Steelers Free Agency

Photo via Steelers.com

By Hombre de Acero

The 2018 off season has already brought change to the Steelers with the next month promising to bring more, even if the Steelers remain quiet in free agency. But before any of that can happen, this corner of Steelers Nation must first resolve these 5 Smoldering Question on Steelers Free Agency.

1. In his post-season pow-wow with reporters, Steelers President Art Rooney II declared that “Its hard to play defense in today’s NFL.” While many will readily accept Rooney’s assertion, it was only 2 years ago that the Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl on the strength of their defense.

Do you think the erstwhile Steelers President might be a little too quick to let Keith Butler and company off the hook?

2. At first word was there’d be no changes to Mike Tomlin’s defensive staff, yet Carnell Lake resigned and Johnny Mitchell got kicked upstairs. Once praised for “The Lake Effect” Lake has been a lightening rod for criticism of late.

Even if you accept at face value his explanation that his resignation was a choice, do you think the Steelers secondary will be better or worse off under Tom Bradley?

3. The day one free agency signings of Mike Mitchell and Ladarius Green were out of character for the Steelers. The latter move was a complete failure, even if you accept that Green played well in the 6 games of the four year contract he signed. Mike Mitchell’s offers more of a mixed bag, but he still was not the impact player the Steelers needed him to be.

The Steelers of course have obtained the services of future Hall of Famers like Kevin Greene through free agency, as well as perennial Pro Bowlers like Ryan Clark and James Farrior.

But none of these were first-choice options of the Steelers.

Could it be that the Steelers simply aren’t suited for Splash Free Agency?

4. William Gay fell to free agency as a salary cap casualty. When the history of Steelers cornerbacks is written, the top five will read: Mel Blount, Rod Woodson, Jack Butler, Ike Taylor and Dwayne Woodruff.

Where would you rank William Gay?

Feel free to offer a range as opposed to a specific rank but be ready to defend your choice.

5. The Steelers have offered tenders to Anthony Chickillo and Chris Boswell, franchised Le’Veon Bell and if reports are correct, Chris Hubbard will have signed with the Browns by the time you read this.

Pittsburgh’s remaining unrestricted free agents are Arthur Moats, Justin Hunter, Daniel McCullers, Sean Spence and Stevan Ridley. Restricted free agents Eli Rogers, Fitzgerald Toussiant and Greg Ducre (who????) also have gotten no offers and are unrestricted free agents.

You are Kevin Colbert: Which of these players do you bring back for 2018?

Bonus Question:

6. It does not take a football genius or a Steelers news junkie to know that Pittsburgh’s most urgent needs in 2018 are inside linebacker and safety.

Which position would you target for the draft and which would you target via free agency? Offer examples and defend your choice.

Bubbles and Fake Sports News

Image via Steelers.com

By Ivan Cole

Hombre brought this little nugget from a recent Ed Bouchette chat transcript to my attention.

D Hawk: Hi Ed. Don’t you think it’s time to move off from Ben? Maybe try to get Rivers,

Cutler or Cousins? They will never win with Ben.

Ed Bouchette: Thank you for our weekly laugh of the chat. Please drive home safely.

If you are a regular visitor to this site, you probably think that the above comment is more than a bit unhinged. However, no matter how stunning such an assertion might strike us, if you find it surprising you just haven’t been paying attention. It would be oh- so-easy to dismiss this as being simply moronic, but I think that misses the mark.

Recently, there has been a lot of conversation in the mainstream culture about the trend towards tribalization and the insulated bubbles of perceived reality that develop as a result. While it appears to be a revelation to some, it has been the norm in the universe of sports fandom for quite some time. What is Steelers Nation but a tribe? Arguably one of 32 in the NFL alone. Each of these tribes operates within its own matrix and are also connected to larger informational networks. The connection within and between these universes and some shared, agreed upon version of reality can be tenuous.

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A Couple of Snarky Questions on the Pittsburgh Steelers: Free Agency Edition

Matt Freed/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

As noted in the premier post in this series (“premier” in the sense of first, not the sense of good…) this feature is a placeholder for the 5 Smoldering Questions. So let’s get to it, since it’s already late.

1. Most everyone seems to think Lawrence Timmons will be a cap casualty with the Dolphins. His stat line last year was nothing to write home about. Part of this is because he bizarrely missed the first walk-through of the season for the Week 2 game, the first for the Phins because of the hurricane, thus being suspended for the first two games. It was the first time since 2009 he missed a game.

But some might say that, in terms of inside linebackers, beggars can’t be choosers, and the Steelers, due to Ryan Shazier’s health and their cap constraints, are definitely beggars. If you were the Steelers brain trust, would you try to bring the 32-year-old Timmons back for another year in the Black and Gold?

2. James Harrison recently showed up, rather to most people’s surprise, to Brett Keisel’s “Shear Da Beard” event. Arthur Moats said they had “talked out their differences.” Whether Steeler Nation will ever again take him back to their collective bosoms is another matter. But my question concerns Harrison’s stated desire to play next season. What’s your guess? Did you see enough from him in a different scheme to think another team will take him on?

That’s all for now. This is plenty to deal with in the offseason, right in the middle of the Olympics. And speaking of the Olympics, here’s a bonus for you. One of my son-in-laws is a police officer, and this was recently published in the department newsletter. Names are changed to protect the guilty:

  • PO Jim Smith at 7 PM: “Oh…Figure skating?”
  • PO Jim Smith at 10 PM: “If they nail this triple twist they’ve got at least 40 in the technical category.”

Stay warm, y’all.

Tackling the Big Questions, No. 1: To Keep or Not to Keep

Photo via Steelers.com, illustrating some of those intangibles…

I’m launching another new offseason feature this year, because as Kevin Colbert said in his recent press conference, if you keep doing the same thing, why would you expect a different result? (Although why we would want a different result than a 13-3 season and winning the division was not stated, except, I suppose, for that little “first-round playoff exit” thing…)

And I don’t know what different result I’m aiming for, either. Truth to tell, I just like the sound of the headline, and you’re going to see it a lot, exploring different issues. Today’s issue, as you might suspect, is the potential free agents whose status is still very much up in the air at the moment.

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A Couple of Snarky Questions: The State of the Steelers

As promised in my previous post, here is the new feature for the off-season—the Snarky Questions. If any of you have snarky questions you would like asked, send them along! Although I have an inborn facility for being snarky, I would be happy for any assistance. So here goes:

I thought it might be good to take a long look at Art II’s State of the Steelers address, which will obviously require more than a few questions. So this will be an ongoing feature. But before we get to that, I wanted to throw this into the mix:

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A Potpourri of Steelers Talk

Photo via Steelers.com

There’s a surprisingly large amount to report/discuss/disagree about in the Steelers universe, given that we are only one week out from the most offensive Super Bowl in the history of the game. (Read that as you like.)

For one thing, the Steelers have been busy making small signings and salary restructures, the former to take care of impending free agents of one sort or another, the latter presumably in the name of freeing up the cartloads of money it will take to re-sign Le’Veon Bell.

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What I Saw in the 52nd Super Bowl: A Great Championship Game

Photo via PatriotsWire/USA Today Sports

By Ivan Cole

I had originally planned to not watch the game but changed my mind. I was glad I did. It was almost certainly the most entertaining offensive spectacle of a championship game, beginning to end, there has been. Further, the outcome, and the manner that it was reached was probably the best the league could hope for given the circumstances.

You didn’t have to be a Patriots hater or buy too deeply into the ‘cheaters/conspiracy’ narratives to believe that it would be best for the game that they lost. The league has staked its business model on being anti-dynastic (more commonly referred to as parity) for some pretty good reasons. Even some Pats fans were hoping to break the cycle this year. Read more

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