We're operating on DCSNT during the offseason, so it's taken a while to address the various free agency moves the Steelers have made in recent weeks. Between writing for The Sporting News, KSK, Edge and whatever other writerly endeavors I've been doing, it's been difficult to find time to compose thoughtful reactions. So I'll try to lay them out here. In some cases it's weeks after others have. That's the kind of timeliness you have come to expect around here during the offseason.
Will Allen, Arnaz Battle and Ryan Clark: The Allen signing preceded Clark's resigning with the team, causing some, including myself, to panic that he would be the new strong safety. But then just as it seemed that Clark would end up with the Dolphins, whom he was meeting that day, his signing with the Steelers was announced hours later. Which was very welcome news. Clark had a new noticeable poor outings last year and suffered with Troy out of the lineup, but he's still a better complement to Polamalu than anyone the Steelers would be able to get in free agency. And a rookie wouldn't be able to surpass him by the end of the upcoming season. Nevertheless, Allen and Battle are said to be solid special teams contributors and even though some of the kick coverages issues improved toward the end of the year, it was something that had to be dealt with in the offseason.
Antwaan Randle El: I'm still kind of puzzled by this move. El has often been vocal about his love for the team, so no doubt he was eager to return for a modest price. With Hines, Santonio and Mike Wallace, El won't place higher than fourth on the depth chart at receiver. It's nice to have one more weapon in that corps, not to mention gives them a better option in gadget type plays that Bruce Arians enjoys running. Just so long as he isn't more than an emergency option as a punt returner. It does make the situation for Limas Sweed that much more dim, considering the Steelers would have to carry six receivers to accommodate him along with El and Battle.
Larry Foote: While it was curious to see that he got a three-year deal in his return, it was hard not to count this as anything but good news. My only concern is that it may mean even less playing time for Keyaron Fox, who at times looked like a better overall player than Timmons last year. It will give them a more experienced backup to Farrior, who knows the defense well enough to spell him if age is as much as issue as some fear.
Running Back: An option that I haven't seen discussed is Justin Fargas, who was consistently a solid contributor in Oakland. So far he's met with the Chiefs and Eagles and as far as I know he hasn't drawn any interest from the Steelers. I'm not sure why, unless they have plans to address the position through a first or second day draft pick, which is a decent possibility, though one I'm not necessarily thrilled about. It seems like Fargas is a reasonable and inexpensive alternative. Though maybe they'll wait and see if he's still available in May.
First Round: I'm admittedly not an awesome evaluator of college talent, but unless C.J. Spiller is a game-changing back (and few would say he is), I'd still the team rather go with Mike Iupati in the first. The right side of the line could use an injection of talent, and his ability to play on the edge helps with the team's lack of depth at tackle. With Clark re-signed, taking Earl Thomas seems like a luxury move. Unless there's a great corner for them at their pick, and from what I've seen that seems unlikely, I don't see how the team could go in another direction than one that has been a need for a few years running.
Around the division
Antonio Bryant and Matt Jones to the Bengals: Coles was a washout for them and they didn't have much of a third option after Chris Henry died, so this was a necessary move for them. Not overly impressed with their solution, but it be enough to make their passing game marginally better. They just have to hope Ced Benson won't feel the effects of his big workload in '09.
Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson out, Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace in for the Browns: BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
[trails off slightly, wipes tear from face]
Anquan Boldin to the Ravens: It's a pretty good pickup for the Ratbirds, especially because they ended up holding onto Derrick Mason. A physical receiver like Boldin could really do some damage if he were matched up with William Gay, which further underscores the team's need to get better at corner before next season. Some Ravens fan wrote into KSK saying that the acquisition made Joe Flacco a top 10 NFL quarterback, which reminded me that if nothing else, Baltimore has good drugs.
Post sponsored by Bodog, online sports betting site.