I can just picture Mike Tomlin, Dick LeBeau, and Todd Haley sitting at the edge of a quiet dock on a lake. They have their fishing poles lazily dangling next to their chairs. Yuenglings sleeved in Steeler koozies occupy the cup holders in the chairs. Dicky is snoozing away, Tomlin scans the lake, and Haley sternly stares at his bait. Kevin Colbert is quietly sitting on the shoreline making ants march in a straight line. The dock is jarred into excitement as LeBeau’s pole suddenly snags a catch. LeBeau wrestles for a bit and has Tomlin come over to help reel in the big catch of the day. The water splashes up as their catch is freed from the grips of the lake and brought down onto the dock. What could it be?! Ohhhh it’s, it’s! …. it’s only former LSU LB Ryan Baker. LeBeau asks Tomlin, ‘Should we throw him back?’
It’s a bit romanticized, but this honestly feels like what the team is doing these days in the off-season. The Steelers quietly release players they’ve signed futures contracts with from months ago. They bring in an undrafted free agent, hoping that they might pan out. When things don’t look promising, they throw them back to the treacherous waters of the unemployed NFL athletes. The coaches and Colbert just keep on fishing for players available. Most, if not all are considered longshots to make the team. But hey. Somewhere in there, they are bound to find that ‘perfect catch.’
The Steelers did indeed sign former LSU LB Ryan Baker. And, quietly released back to the wild former Pitt LB Brandon Lindsey. Baker was a second-team All-SEC selection following his senior year at LSU last fall. Baker is one of those longshot acquisitions. Former Cincy Bengal LB Brandon Johnson is still chilling in the cooler next to LeBeau.
It’s interesting that the Steelers are targeting the large-mouth bass of the NFL in the majority of its acquisitions. My sense is that they are looking for some guys who can make the special teams a little more special. And hey, if they can back up a position on defense, then that’s just gravy. This style of luring in players, nabbing them and then discarding them at will has a coolness about it that instills confidence for the upcoming season. There’s no panic. There’s no rush to fill a gaping hole. The team is pretty solid, and the coaches are biding their time by looking at potential gems.
So sit back, relax, throw down a few Yuenglings or Iron City’s, and watch the talent roll in with the tide.
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