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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