The news yesterday that Mike Mitchell had been signed by the Steelers to a 5-year/$25 million deal shocked everyone in Steelers nation. Here is my take on the situation and what it means for the Steelers’ plans for the rest of free agency.
Before I go into detail let me start by saying my two gut reactions: Signing Mitchell was a GREAT move by the front office, and he will be an excellent complement to Troy. They absolutely overpaid for him. The 5-year/$25 million deal that Mitchell was signed to is only half a million less than Pro Bowl safety TJ Ward will make this year. I was expecting a $4 million deal tops for Mitchell. That being said, when the Steelers front office pays up for a free agent they usually have a good reason.
Mitchell spent the first four seasons of his career with the Raiders after being their second round pick in 2009. After his rookie contract with Oakland expired, he signed a one year deal with the Panthers. He played as a backup his first four years in the league before coming to Carolina. He began last year in Carolina as a backup before stepping in for Charles Godfrey when Godfrey became injured early in the season. Mitchell had some nice production in his first 14 games as a starter racking up 67 tackles, 4 sacks, 4 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, and 9 passes defensed. With that production in his first 14 games as a starter, Mitchell has the potential to be a top of the line safety. That is also probably what Kevin Colbert and the rest of the Steelers brass were thinking when they signed him to such a lucrative deal. I am excited to see what Mitchell can bring to this Steelers defense throughout the next five seasons.
What does this mean for the Steelers plans for the rest of free agency? In all likelihood Mitchell will be the Steelers only big splash in the free agent market this offseason. Resigning their own free agents should be the front office’s #1 priority from here on out, but don’t rule out the team being in the running for some smaller name free agents. Don’t expect to hear anything in the mainstream media however, they will be to busy analyzing LeBron James’ every move. Some players whose names could be in the cards are Corey Graham, Alex Carrington, and Brandon LaFell. Graham, who was a cornerback for the Ravens last season, played mostly in a nickel role and on special teams. He does have the ability to make the step outside and become a starting cornerback, however. After Ike Taylor is gone next season, the Steelers could offer him that. Alex Carrington has not received much buzz on in the media because of his 2013 season being limited to three games due to injury, but he is a perfect fit as a 5-tech and could provide an immediate starter to replace Brett Keisel. LaFell has been lost in the buzz of the receivers that are available via free agency or the draft this season, but he could be a solid addition to the Steelers wide receiving corps. He could give the team that tall receiving threat that so many people want them to add.
What do you think Steelers Nation? Was Mitchell a good signing? Are there any more moves in the cards for the Steelers? Leave your comments below.