In the last year of restricted free agency, the Steelers were the most active team in the NFL.
Signing Emmanuel Sanders and Jonathan Dwyer to original round tenders worth $1.323 million each, and right of first refusal tenders to Steve McLendon and Isaac Redman, the Steelers eventually changed the status of three of those four players.
Sanders signed an offer sheet with the New England Patriots, a one-year deal worth $2.5 million. The Steelers matched it, and retained Sanders for the 2013 season. McLendon had a brief flirtation with the Green Bay Packers, and signed a three-year, $7.5 million deal with the Steelers.
Dwyer was cut, only to be re-signed this week, and could see the majority of carries Monday when the Steelers take on the Bengals in Week 2.
Adding to their rap sheet of RFAs, the Steelers signed center Fernando Velasco, who was also given a right of first refusal tender (undrafted) with the Titans. Tennessee eventually released him, making him a free agent.
Velasco was brought in to replace injured center Maurkice Pouncey, and may be ready to play in Week 2.
For the record, the Steelers also chose not to give a tender to Stevenson Sylvester, electing to let him walk in free agency. The team eventually signed him back, only to release him during training camp.
For all the restricted free agency activity the Steelers had, the depth on their roster was, and still is, a concern. They elected not to retain C/G Doug Legursky, a move which may or may not be nullified by the signing of Velasco, but it seems Legursky would have been a much more suitable in-game replacement than Kelvin Beachum in Week 1. They signed free agent TE Matt Spaeth, only to see him end up on the IR-Recall list. With the injury to Heath Miller, the Steelers look to go into their second straight game with a collection of former seventh-round picks manning an important position in the run game.
The Cincinnati Bengals appear to be quite the opposite. With great depth on both sides of the ball, they inked defensive tackle Geno Atkins to a 5-year deal this offseason, and have quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green on the cheap for another season. With young talent dotted all over their roster, they're getting contributions from veterans and young players alike.
They'll meet at Paul Brown Stadium Monday for the first divisional game of the year for both teams, sitting at 0-1.
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