Recent visits from linebackers, safeties suggest Steelers sending different kind of message

Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Digging into the visits of multiple draft prospect safeties suggests the team isn't satisfied with their depth at the position. Or maybe it's just all coated in smoke.

Chris Gazze of Bleacher Report (and friend of BTSC) made a solid point via Twitter Thursday. Amid reminders from fans it's not that the Steelers traded their third round pick in this year's draft for Shamarko Thomas as much as it is getting to claim him for a second straight year. But even with the addition of Thomas, and the free agency signing of Mike Mitchell, is this team satisfied with where it is depth-wise at the safety position?

We touched on this briefly Thursday as well when Deone Bucannon visited with the team. We see Bucannon as a strong in-the-box safety, and while the Steelers have put a good amount of attention into those hybrid defensive backs - predominant safeties who can defend the slot in the passing game - perhaps they're looking for some more depth in regards to traditional run-supporting safeties.

The excitement about Mitchell is valid (as PC illustrates in his breakdown Thursday) but that doesn't change the fact he received a modest bonus and has low base salaries over the next two seasons. He begins receiving higher level starting salary in 2016. This can be interpreted as "we're giving you two years to prove why we should keep you." Thomas is signed through 2017 and the extension of Troy Polamalu keeps him under contract through that same time.

A lot of positions have fewer players signed much longer than that, but it validates Gazze's question. Do they feel they have what they want at both positions? A player like Rob Golden, a special teams ace who hasn't played much at all at safety, could be replaced, and it may be worth their time to bring in some competition.

Linebacker isn't too much different, either. With second-year LB Vince Williams appearing to be penciled in at the starting position heading into the draft means either the team is looking for his replacement in this draft or they are sold on Williams. Or, the combination of Terence Garvin and a healthy Sean Spence gives the Steelers the kind of flexibility they're looking for out of that position, but they'd like to add another one.

Or, ultimately, maybe the visits are just meant to throw people off their scent. That seems kind of pointless, but it's an interesting look at the direction of the team.

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