5 Smoldering Questions on the Steelers’ Free Agency
by Hombre de Acero
With NFL Free Agency about to begin its third week the 2017 off season is fully underway. And for the Steelers it’s business as usual, greatly to the chagrin of much of the franchise’s fan base. Nonetheless, there’s been enough activity thus far to give this corner of Steelers Nation 5 Smoldering Questions to struggle with before our focus firmly shifts to the 2017 NFL Draft.
1. A new coach’s first draft pick defines his legacy – unless it doesn’t. Bill Austin defined his legacy for the worse by picking Dick Leftridge and Chuck Noll defined his for the better by picking Joe Greene. However, while he was a good pick, it is hard to argue that picking Leon Searcy defined Bill Cowher’s legacy one way or another.
With that in mind, to what extent did picking Lawrence Timmons define Mike Tomlin’s legacy?
2. Jarvis Jones’ defection to Pittsburgh West, aka the Arizona Cardinals, punctuated his status as the most disappointing first round pick of the Kevin Colbert era. With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, is it correct to say that the Steelers erred in cutting James Harrison during the 2013 off season?
3. At this point in the off season, when NFL teams throw contracts at free agents as if they are spending monopoly money, commentators frequently cite the oft inactive Steelers and Patriots (along with a handful of other clubs, such as the Packers) as models for how to successfully work the system.
Yet, as ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler notes, the Patriots have departed from the script this year and have been fairly aggressive in acquiring new players. Given Pittsburgh’s seemingly perennial status as second fiddle to the Patriots, do you think that the Steelers brain trust should have been more active in the first wave of free agency?
4. Oddly enough, our fourth question provides a sort of “Counter Factual” case study for question 3.
The Steelers did in fact express strong interest in signing New England’s Donta Hightower and, while they weren’t prepared to engage in a bidding war, did by all accounts make a serious offer to Hightower, which he rejected.
Before the outcome was known, Jim Wexell argued persuasively that Hightower wouldn’t offer much of an upgrade, and after he made his decision, Ed Bouchette argued that Hightower had done the Steelers a favor.
First, do you agree with Wexell and Bouchette and, second, what does the fact that the Steelers were willing to make such an aggressive offer for this type of player tell you?
5. Of the Steelers remaining unsigned free agents, DeAngelo Williams, Cody Wallace, Shamarko Thomas and Ricardo Mathews, which do you think the team should consider re-signing and which players do you think should consider beginning their “Life’s Work?”
There you go folks! Have at it.