That headline surely grabbed your attention and makes you say "what the hell?". Simply put it is all about the Steelers and free agency. As every Steelers fan knows, Pittsburgh don't go out and sign the big names that become available in free agency. This leads to many believing that the Steelers are inactive in free agency and that is a false assumption. While its true you won't ever see Pittsburgh sign the big name to the big contract, what they do quite successfully is bring in the players that benefit them the most.
What follows is a comparison that shows the Steelers front office really does a good job in the free agent market. This comparison doesn't include when the team successfully keeps their own free agents. For this comparison I decided to use the team that is always in the headlines signing the big name free agents, the Washington Redskins.
Here is the list of the Redskins top 11 big name signings, in dated order, and their contributions to the team in the time that they played in Washington.
1. 1998-2000 DT Dana Stubblefield, 6yr $36 million contract, had 7 sacks in three years
2. 2000 CB Deion Sanders, 8 yr $56 million contract at age 33 yrs old, played one year and had 4 Interceptions
3. 2000-01 QB Jeff George, 4 yr $14.8 million contract, started 7 games in two years, throwing 7 TDs and 9 Ints and winning once.
4. 2000 S Mark Carrier, 5 yr $15.9 million contract, played 1 year and had one interception.
5. 2000-03 DE Bruce Smith, 5 yr $23 million contract at age 36, played 4 years before being released in the 5th year producing 29 sacks (10 in the 1st year), but never made any true impact leading to the teams success.
6. 2002-03 LB Jeremiah Trotter, 7 yrs $36 million contract, played 2 years making 204 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 2 Ints.
7. 2002-03 Coach Steve Spurrier's former Florida Gators this includes QBs Shane Matthews & Danny Wuerffel and WRs Jaquez Green & Chris Doering, these players never produced for the team and the money would have been better spent providing the young QB hopeful Patrick Ramsey with an offensive line so he wasn't constantly running for his life.
8. 2006 LB Mike Barrow, 6 yr $11.6 million contract, never played a down in a Redskins uniform.
9. 2006 S Adam Archuletta, 6 yr $30 million contract, played 1 year and was such a liability in the passing game he got demoted to special teams for the majority of the season and was traded to the Bears for a 6th rd draft pick (this signing is why the Redskins did not re-sign Ryan Clark).
10. 2006-09 WR Antwan Randle-El, $31 million contract, scored 11 TDs in 4 years.
11. 2009-10 DT Albert Haynesworth, 7 yr $100 million contract, 6.5 sacks in 2 years, was a complete failure that never lived up to any expectations giving half-hearted attempts on-the-field and never stepping away from the buffet line off-the-field. Washington press started calling him Haynesworthless in all their articles.
In the 16 years from the 1st signing on this list to today, the Redskins record is 110-146 for a 42.9 winning percentage. They won the NFC East twice and made 4 playoff appearances. That means all the money spent never brought (or bought) them a championship or any true success.
Now time for the Steelers top 11 free agent signings. I wasn't able to find the money figures of the initial contracts of the players when they signed, feel free to offer if you know the figures. Knowing the Steelers I am sure that there wasn't any bank-breaking deals, but I could be wrong. Once again these are listed in dated order, not most successful.
1. 1993-95 LB Kevin Greene, 35.5 sacks in three years leading the league in 1994 (14).
2. 1994-95 DE Ray Seals, 15.5 sacks, 1 Int, and 3 FFs in 2 years.
3. 1994-95 RB John L. Williams, besides his blocking he also contributed 427 rush yds, 75 rec for 505 yds and combined 4 TDs.
4. 1998-2003 CB DeWayne Washington, started 92 of 96 games with 19 Ints and 2 TDs.
5. 2000-03 S Brent Alexander, started all 64 games producing 15 Ints and 1 TD.
6. 2000-05 DE Kimo von Oelhoffen, started 94 of 96 games and had 20.5 sacks.
7. 2001-06 C Jeff Hartings, 2x pro bowl and 2x all pro.
8. 2002-11 LB James Farrior, captain of the defense, 1078 tackles, 30 sacks, 8 Ints, and 12 FFs, 2x pro bowl and 2x all pro.
9. 2006-present S Ryan Clark, key component in the secondary, 666 tackles, 11 Ints, and 3 FFs.
10. 2008-11 RB Mewelde Moore, primarily a 3rd down back but in the '08 super bowl year he had 588 rush yds, 5 TDs, and 40 rec for 320 yds 1 TD.
11. 2011-present WR Jerricho Cotchery, used mostly as a 3rd or 4th receiver has had 79 rec for 1044 yds and 12 TDs (10 this last year).
Now in the 20 years since Pittsburgh signed Kevin Greene the Steelers are 200-120 for a 62.5 winning percentage. They are 10x AFC North champions, 4x AFC champions, 2x Super Bowl winners and have made the playoffs 12 times.
So as you can see if you are just looking at the list of names, the Redskins list looks a lot more impressive. When you look at what the players contributed and the team has accomplished the Steelers list is leaps and bounds ahead. So the next time a team signs that big name don't get mad that it wasn't Pittsburgh doing the signing. Remember big names and big contracts doesn't equal big success. After researching the information for this article, I now realize that the Steelers Front Office not only know what they are doing in free agency, but they have the track record to prove it, and I hope this shows you the same thing.