My Take on the Pittsburgh Steelers' $61.5 Million "Mistake"

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Part II:

What at least $51.5 million Could Have Bought for the Beleaguered O-Line

Typing this part of the article really depresses me.  My stomach turns just listing the amount of guys that the Steelers could have gone after that would have at least helped their O-Line.  Unfortunately I have to point out at least a few of them to really hammer home the point about how they could have helped team had the F.O. franchised LaMarr at just over $10 million dollars.  So here is a short list of some of the 2011 Free Agent O-Linemen, what they signed for/how long they signed for, and what the Steelers money could have bought instead of Woodley’s failed bull-rushes:

Tackles:

Tyson Clabo: 5 years $25 million contract.  $11.5 million guaranteed

2010 Pro Bowler.  Turning 30 on October 17 of this season.  Starter at RT for the Falcons after being undrafted in 2004.  Started 69 games in 5 seasons with Atlanta.  Steelers probably could have spent some of the money from the Woodley contract to at least try to pry Clabo away from Atlanta.

Jammal Brown: 5 years $27.5 million contract. $8.5 million guaranteed

2x Pro Bowler (2006 and 2008).  Played Left Tackle in New Orleans and started 58 games from 2005 to 2008.  Missed 2009 season with knee injury.  Rebounded to start at RT for the Redskins in 2010.  Versatility in terms of playing both Tackle positions key, and could have stepped in and played either position for the Steelers.

Guards:

Justin Blalock: 6 years $38 million contract. $16 million guaranteed

Started for 4+ years for the Atlanta Falcons, and started 14 games in his rookie season of 2007.  Solid run blocker and mans the all-important Left Guard position.  Big reason why Michael Turner has had such success in Atlanta on the ground.

David Baas: 5 years $27.5 million contract. $11.5 million guaranteed

Played most of his career at Guard and has started 57 total games in 6+ seasons.  Has versatility, started at Center during 2010 season, and can play there in a pinch if injury arises.  Not an elite talent, but much better than any of the Guards that are on the Steelers’ roster now.

Why Tackle and Guard needed the upgrades and how the Steelers fixed nothing by resigning Colon:

Blalock (left) and Clabo (right) both could have upgraded the Steelers' beleaguered O-Line, Image Courtesy of projects.ajc.com

Instead of putting their money to good use by signing competent O-Linemen with what they had left after the Woodley contract, the Steelers’ F.O. decided to award a 5 year $29 million contract to their underachieving OT Willie Colon!  Not only has Colon been a false-starting machine over his 3+ years as a starter, he has constantly allowed Defenders to harass Ben when he drops back to pass, and now his body has begun to break down to boot (he will miss the rest of the 2011 season due to injury after missing all of 2010).

If you say that bringing Colon back meant cohesion for the O-Line, I must point out that he has only played with Kemoeatu up front and never played a snap with Scott, Gilbert, and Pouncey.  He would have been just as new to playing with these guys as one of the F.A.’s if they were brought in.

As for the Guard position, how Chris Kemoeatu has been able to hold onto his job for these past 4+ seasons is nothing short of remarkable.  Go back and watch that Buffalo game from last season where he was thrown around the field like a rag-doll that day by Kyle Willimas and you’ll get my point.  Plus you factor in the numerous drive killing Holding penalties, the injuries piling up for him, and it is laughable that this guy is able to start in the N.F.L..  It befuddles me to no end how the F.O. hasn’t found a replacement for Kemo yet!  To put the cherry on top of the crap loaded sundae, the RG position has been in a state of flux since Kendall Simmons’ injury in 2008!  And it will continue to be a wasteland until it is properly addressed with a high draft pick or in Free Agency.

The fact that the Steelers didn’t make a play for solid pros like Blalock, Bass, or any other competent Guard in Free Agency was downright irresponsible.  Sure, we can all blame Rashard Mendenhall for his tip-toeing towards the line, but when the Interior O-Line (especially the Guards) can’t open anything up, Mendy can’t tip-toe through much of anything.

Ultimately, the Steelers should have/could have brought in one Guard, and one Tackle from the list for just over $51.5 million dollars had they simply franchised LaMarr.  What’s worse is that they could have had even more money to spend on the O-Line (or even Defensive Backfield) had they not handed a $29 million contract to the oft-injured/overrated Colon either!

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