Break Out The Pens: Steelers Ink First Free Agent of Season

Pope will bring size and hands... and some new numbers (45) to the TE position. Credit: John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE

Get the ink wells ready.  And I’m not talking about trying to cover up that ‘Bruce Forever’ tat you put on your back three seasons ago.  The Steelers have finally signed their first free agent of the season.  The player, former TE Chief and part time life guard, Leonard Pope.  Pope is coming off his best season in his career statistically, albeit it’s nothing earth shattering as far as TE’s go – Heath Miller had 51 catches last season.  Oh yeah and he saved a 6-year old boy’s life during the lockout last season.

Pope is a smart pick as an addition to the offense.  In case you haven’t noticed, unless David Johnson changes his name to Max Powers, he’s never going to really get any notoriety being the hybrid TE/FB player he is.  He is a mediocre athlete even though he is getting better.    Wes Saunders is suspended for the first four games.  Pope will add some size and better hands for an offense that should (SHOULD) utilize its TE’s more as the season.  Pope has played with Haley practically his whole career – big bonus there.  He will be familiar with Haley’s schemes and tendencies, and he will have opportunities to let players know when to duck away from the flying clipboard.

For those who were hoping for the Steelers to sign someone with a bit more bling in their swagger, better luck next time.  In fact, better luck next season.  This will probably be the ‘biggest’ free agent signing for the team this whole off season.  The TE was a need they knew they could fill without a huge hit to the pocketbook (details on Pope’s deal yet to be released).  Pope adds value and potential to that position, and his history with Haley is simply gravy.  I hope he can block and do some life saving for his new QB.

Congrats to Pope and to the Steelers.  This is about as smart as you can get in free agency moves.  Anyone surprised?  The other big question is:  That’s four TE’s.  Who goes and who stays?  Johnson or Saunders?

Topics: Chiefs, Haley, Heath Miller, Kansas City Chiefs, Leonard Pope, Steelers, Todd Haley

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  • DomDiTolla

    I like the Max Power reference from  “The Simpsons.”  But I’m digging this as a value signing, if Pope pans out, great, if he doesn’t, they didn’t break the bank for him.  Who knows?  Maybe he will evolve into a solid #2 and Red Zone threat.
     
    Not sure who will go Yet in terms of Johnson or Saunders.  It Will be an uphill climb for Saunders if he misses the first 4 Games though.  What are your thoughts, Craig?

  • craig.nicepickcowher

     @DomDiTolla It’s a tough call because you would think the Steelers would need to make this type of cut during camp to free up roster spots.  And camp will be (I think at least) a poor litmus for much of the offense as they are trying to adjust to the ‘new system.’
    That said, if I had to pick, I think Saunders would be the guy to go.  Being gone for 4 games will be tough to come back from and be effective.  Miller is the best overall.  Pope has better hands than Johnson.  Johnson is the better blocker over Saunders.  So the team has all three options when they go to 2 or 3 TE packages.  If they are still in need for FB by camp/week 1, then Johnson could move solely to that roll.