The Steelers are usually quiet during the offseason. They quietly sign some veterans who deserve to stay, let go of some others, have a solid draft class (nothing too flashy), and make some late moves to bring in more players to fill in that ‘supporting cast.’ It’s a formula that’s worked for years, and the team isn’t about to change this offseason. Today, the Steelers got one step closer to the end of their formula by signing a couple of free agents (and letting go of one vet).
The team signed former Cincinnati Bungle LB Brandon Johnson. Johnson will be entering his 7th season, and has seen most of his playing time as a special teamer and reserve linebacker. He’s not a significant signing – just another additional veteran to add to the mix. Actually, he could have a fairly large impact on special teams – he was pretty decent for the Bengals. Aside from last season, Johnson’s last three seasons saw 40+ tackles, a bunch of passes defended, and a few interceptions. Of course, there is the chance that Johnson makes his way onto the second team defense. We know the first team of Harrison, Timmons, Foote, and Woodley are pretty much set. What is unknown is who will make up that second team. Best of luck, and I hope he was worth the effort.
The team also released TE Wes Lyons today. Lyons – who was too small for that position and not fast enough to be a WR - was near the bottom of the list of contenders who were fighting for a couple of the TE reserve spots. Heath Miller sits at the top, and the assumption is that Leonard Pope lands at the #2 spot. With David Johnson officially moving to the fullback position and Weslye Saunders 4 game suspension for the beginning of the season, it became unclear who was going to fill the #3 spot or if the Steelers would save that roster spot for another position near the end of camp. Lyons was on that list of potentials, but it is now down to Saunders and rookie David Paulson. It will be interesting to see what comes of this spot and whether Haley will utilize a Jumbo with three tight ends at the goal line or if he will stick with Johnson and keep him up high or back down to the line as the ‘extra lineman.’
The Steelers also signed long snapper Matt Katula - kind of a tough pill to swallow for Lyons when your released for ‘roster fodder’ like Johnson and Katula. Oh well.