Rest easy, Steeler Nation. Andre Frazier has re-signed with our beloved Black and Gold. Not only do we get his special teams expertise for another year but we also managed to save some space under the salary cap through a shrewd bit of maneuvering by Player Personnel Director Kevin Colbert. Instead of tendering him an offer which would pay him $927,000, the Pittsburgh Steelers cleverly allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent, allowing them to then sign him at a lower salary. These sort of ingenious maneuvers are why we’ve been such a successful franchise the past 15 years. Suck it, Oakland.
Of course, I’m being a smartass. Andre Frazier is a minor blip on the radar and other than running down the field on kickoffs and punts, his greatest contribution to the Steelers next year will be keeping a seat on the bench warm for important players like punter Daniel Sepulveda.
But I’m okay with that. You know why? A boring free agency season means one thing: your team is pretty damn good. Look at the Patriots. Or the Colts. Or even the Chargers. How many free agents have they signed? How many have they lost? Do they even care?
Facts are, the teams who sign the most free agents are usually teams in dire need of improvement. This year, there have been a lot of moves by the Jets, Bears, and Eagles. Well, there should be, they weren’t good last year. They should be bringing in new players to try and turn things around. The Catch-22, though, is that no team has ever successfully rebuilt through free agency. Sure, if you’re thisclose to contending, an off-season pick-up can put you over the top. T.O. going to Philly or Randy Moss being sent to New England comes to mind. But overhauling your team with free agents is like trying to redecorate your house with stuff you find at a garage sale. The quality is just not there and you end up paying ridiculous sums for #3 recievers or washed up linebackers. Ask Danny Snyder.
The curse of being a Steeler fan is your team is well-run enough that most off-seasons are blessedly dull. The Pittsburgh strategy is very clear. First, we sign our core players before they even sniff the open market. Ben Roethlisberger, Willie Parker, Troy Polamalu, and Aaron Smith were all locked up well in advance of free agency, keeping the nucleus of the team intact. The players who we don’t deem irreplaceable, or who have reached the point of becoming high priced veterans, are let go and replaced with younger prospects. We cut LB Joey Porter last season and James Harrison stepped in without missing a beat. Clark Haggans is a free agent this year and we haven’t even made a half-hearted attempt at keeping him because we have two young players, Lawrence Timmons and Lamarr Woodley (who looked great in limited playing time as a rookie), ready to take the field. Yes, losing G Alan Faneca hurts. However, if history is any guide, the Steelers will address this in the draft, ending up with a player of comparable ability at half the price.
And when the Steelers do tip toe into the free agent pool, we always go for the Giant Eagle double coupon super-saver specials, orphaned players saved from dire conditions on lousy teams by Dan “Daddy Warbucks” Rooney. Even there we’ve done very well. Never forget that C Jeff Hartings, whose retirement last year almost single-handedly lead to the collapse of our line, was originally signed away from the lowly Detroit Lions. So when I read the Steelers are talking with Atlanta S Chris Crocker or Miami G Rex Hadnot, I’m optimistic about finding another diamond in the rough and not another Sean Mahan.
We’ve already signed one free agent this off-season, former Vikings RB Mewelde Moore. I think Moore could prove to be a very important player for us next season. He’s already the odds on favorite to be our new return man, replacing the gone and happily forgotten Allen Rossum. He’ll also likely be our new third down back, assuming a role similar to the one Verron Haynes used to fill as an outlet receiver in the flat. Haynes was a major part of the 15-1 (2004) and Super Bowl (2005) teams as he kept many drives alive by converting third downs via dump-offs from Big Ben. Since his devastating and apparently career-ending knee injury two seasons ago, we have missed that kind of weapon on offense.
Moore may very well turn into yet another in a string of nice acquisitions at a bargain basement price. Considering the Steelers recent history with free agency, I wouldn’t bet against it.
Tags: Allen Rossum Bill Cowher Colbert Cowher Faneca Frazier Joey Porter Johanson Kevin Colbert Lost Matt Spaeth Max Starks Mewelde Moore Miami Mike Tomlin Minnesota Natalie Portman NFL No Country For Old Men Pearl Jam Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Steelers Polamalu Porter Rossum Scarjo Scarlett Johansson Spaeth Starks Steelers Tomlin Vikings