How in the world is Guy Whimper still with the Steelers?

Phil Sears-US PRESSWIRE

No, really - how did the least "Steelers" name in the history of the black and gold survive the cut down to 53?

First, let's clarify what this article is not:

This is NOT a defense of Guy Whimper's play this preseason. I saw the penalties and blown-blocks just like the rest of you. Clearly he is no world-beater.

This is also NOT an assurance that Whimper won't be cut at some point this season.

This article is just illustrating that when you know the M.O. of a relatively stable team like the Pittsburgh Steelers, it takes a lot of the guesswork out of who is going to survive the end of preseason cut-down to 53 men.

The Steelers prefer to build through the draft, and then retain their own homegrown talent. They are perennial "losers" in the offseason columns grading free agency because they don't wade in chasing the sexy name-brand guys.

Let's look at Pittsburgh's past five years of pre-training camp unrestricted free agent pickups.

2013 Steelers offseason UFA signings (6):

QB Bruce Gradkowski

RB LaRod Stephens-Howling

TE Matt Spaeth

OL Guy Whimper

CB William Gay

P Brian Moorman

2012 Steelers offseason UFA signings (2):

TE Leonard Pope

LB Brandon Johnson

2011 Steelers offseason UFA signing (1):

WR Jerricho Cotchery

2010 Steelers offseason UFA signings (6):

WR Arnaz Battle

WR Antwaan Randle El

OL Flozell Adams

OL Jonathan Scott

LB Larry Foote

S Will Allen

2009 Steelers offseason UFA signings (2):

WR Shaun McDonald

CB Keiwan Ratliff

Out of those 17 pre-training camp UFA signings in the past five years, the only one - as in one, singular - who did NOT survive that year's cut down to the 53-man roster is Moorman. Since he failed to earn the starting job over Drew Butler, and seeing how teams only need one punter, Moorman was part of today's cuts.

If a player is an offseason UFA signing by the Steelers, it is a very, very strong indicator that they will be in Pittsburgh for the coming season. The pro personnel department does their due diligence before deciding to bring someone in. And when you've got a new coach who has actually worked with a free agent in the past (in this case, new OL coach Jack Bicknell, Jr. and Whimper were both with the Giants in 2009), the existing level of familiarity is an unseen factor that us fans can easily forget about.

Now, there is no assurance that the UFA signings will be with the Steelers long-term -- McDonald and Ratliff were both released midseason in 2009; while Scott, Foote, and Cotchery are the only ones to sign another contract with Pittsburgh after the initial free agent deal was up.

Once again, I'm not defending the quality of Whimper's play this preseason, or making excuses for it. I'm just saying that considering the Steelers M.O. with regards to offseason UFA signings (plus the connection to Bicknell), it wasn't a huge surprise that Whimper seems to have survived today's cut down to 53.

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