— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) March 14, 2014
Gerry Dulac of the Post-Gazette Tweeted harmlessly the Steelers pursued the services of Packers outside linebacker Mike Neal before he signed a two-year deal with his original team.
Where there's smoke, there's interest in versatile outside linebackers who could play inside.
The release of veteran Larry Foote wasn't a total surprise, given his salary and recent injury history as well as his age. It does leave the Steelers with a thin inside linebackers group, spearheaded by Lawrence Timmons but dulling off quite a bit with second-year ILB Vince Williams and zero-snaps-taken Sean Spence (assuming he'll be able to play).
And it's not like the team has every reason in the world to have total faith in their outside linebackers, either. Jason Worilds had a breakout campaign over the second half of the 2013 season, leading to his transition-tagged salary of $9.75 million, with a long-term contract expected to be signed soon. Jarvis Jones, a first-round pick in 2013, had an underwhelming rookie year. There shouldn't be an issue with entrenching them as starters, but behind the starters is veteran Chris Carter and second-year Terence Garvin has seen time both inside and outside in certain subpackages.
It'd make perfect sense to see them pursuing a swing linebacker who could also contribute on special teams. Maybe Neal was that kind of player. Considering Neal's ability, the fact the Steelers allegedly aimed a bit higher than average in the market suggests they feel it necessary to add another player into that mix.