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A Stark Reality: Steelers Off Season A Whimper

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Steelers Hit Jackpot: Sign Matt Spaeth

In another mystifying move the Steelers threw a life preserver to a recently cut TE

Matt Spaeth a sign of things to come in The Steel City, Image Courtesy of The Associated Press

Matt Spaeth as he was on the spiral down to the bottom of the free agency scrap heap. Spaeth wouldn’t even be on an NFL roster right now but the Steelers reacted as if they somehow hit tight end gold. Apparently the lure to have Spaeth’s 8 catch per year average (49 career catches) in 6 years for 353 yards and a 7.2 yard average was too irresistable.  If that doesn’t send chills down your spine then his career long of 13 yards should. The reasoning for the Spaeth signing ($962,000 cap charge for 2013) was he knew the system. A system that had changed since he left Pittsburgh. If they would have cut Pope last year and kept Saunders then their would have been no need to sign Spaeth. The Steelers had already re-signed TE David Johnson who sat out all of last year. Why sign Spaeth for almost $1 million that could have been used elsewhere for a player that matters – like Harrison or Keenan Lewis.

The Steelers also signed free agent QB Bruce Gradkowski to a 3 year deal as back up QB. This was a move in the right direction as the Steelers definitely needed to get younger at the back up position. However they may not have signed Gradkowski had they kept Hoyer but that will never be known. However had they kept Hoyer  the Steelers would have benefitted in one of two ways: Saving the cap money it cost to sign Gradkowski ($1.2 million cap hit for 2013 as compared to Hoyer who would have been about half of that) – or if they signed both Hoyer and Gradkowski –  it would have saved their 2014 third round pick (traded to Cleveland) because there would have been no need to draft QB Landry Jones with this years 4th round pick. *Before anyone says the Steelers got Shamarko Thomas for next years third – they did not. Moving up only 4 spots to pick #111 for Thomas should have cost the Steelers a 6th round pick at the most. Because the Steelers wanted to keep their 4th round pick at #115 to draft Landry Jones, is the reason it cost them next years third.

Head Scratchers Continue

Then the Steelers re-signed inside linebacker Stevenson Slyvestor. Another player who would not be on an NFL roster right now except for the lifeline the Steelers gave him. Cincinnati Bengal Rey Maualuga languished in free agency. They could have taken a shot at Maualuga for not much more (2 years $6.5 million) than the amount they paid for Foote (3 years $5.5 million, $1.833 million cap charge for 2013) and Stevenson (1 year $630,000). Rolando McClain was out there on the cheap (Ravens $700,000).  I know many Steelers fans were clamoring for McClain but the Steelers did not even  make an attempt. Sylvestor has almost zero production at inside linebacker since they drafted him 3 years ago (18 career tackles, 1 in 2012, 4 in 2011) with virtually all of his career tackles coming on special teams.

Steelers Fans May Long For The Glory Days Of Jonathon Scott

With Max Starks still out there at a very affordable price the Steelers brass decided, as if Ben Roethlisberger needs to be sacked more, to add RT Guy Whimper. Just as the Steelers fans had gotten over the nightmares of Jonathon Scott manning any tackle position, they signed Guy Whimper. According to Pro Football Focus: In 392 snaps in 2012 Whimper gave up 5 sacks, achieved a -14.6 grade and their third-worst “Pass Blocking Efficiency” rating —this after allowing a whopping 14 sacks in 2011 including a sack in 9 straight games. I challenge you to find any positive reviews anywhere on Whimper’s play.

Colbert And Tomlin Should Be Thanking Max Starks

Max Starks has proven to be the best and most reliable offensive lineman the Steelers have had since Alan Faneca left. He has been the consummate professional and represents himself and the Steelers well. The Steelers always want to talk about character. He is one of their best. If there is one player on the team the Steelers should be loyal too it is Starks. But year in and year out they consistently wipe their feet on him only to bring him back to save them, to save Roethlisberger from getting killed, the season. Starks’s presence is not lost on Roethlisberger. Why doesn’t Tomlin get it? Just how much criticism has Max Starks saved Colbert and Tomlin the last 2 years? It was reported this week that Starks had talks with the Steelers and then they turned around and signed Whimper. Starks said he wanted to start but the Steelers wanted Adams and Gilbert to start.  Since when do teams not sign a player because they want someone else who may not be as good – to start? The need to sign Starks and make Adams or Gilbert beat him out. Adams and Gilbert should be given anything without earning it.

The Steelers rolled into this off season with a flat tire- the salary cap. It seems Tomlin and Colbert got out of the car and slashed the rest.

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