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2014 NFL Free Agency: Steelers not done yet, showing historic level of spending

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The Steelers are dipping into free agency at a level they've never experienced, backing up rhetoric recorded last year and this year about adding new players.

Karl Walter

Admit it, you saw "Darrius Heyward-Bey to visit Steelers" and you thought it was an April Fool's Day prank.

You may have even looked at the 10 other players the Steelers have signed between March 11 and April 1 and thought general manager Kevin Colbert somehow managed to write off games as business losses and had that money added to the salary cap.

The combination of the two representing reality, not a prank or a worrisome new style of financial management, is the fact that's stranger than fiction. Clearly, the Steelers are serious about getting better. In their minds, at least.

Does Tuesday's signing of Brice McCain mean the Steelers' have added the final piece to the best secondary in the NFL? That's not the likely conclusion here. But cornerback is the team's thinnest position depth-wise and he didn't get a dime guaranteed. What would the difference be if the Steelers signed McCain today or on June 2 or even a week before training camp? If nothing else, it shows they want to ensure they have the entire team available to evaluate during minicamp and the portions of the offseason training activities the coaches are allowed to monitor.

As for Heyward-Bey, a one-trick pony who, odd as this is, was the first of two senility-induced picks made by Al Davis for the Raiders in 2009. The other? Mike Mitchell, the prize of the Steelers' 2014 free agency class.

If Heyward-Bey was to sign in Pittsburgh, he'd provide some deep speed at a low price. A bit different of a Steelers' free agent (read: younger but still incapable of creating separation on most routes run), but a non-guaranteed contract isn't going to break the team - nor will the salary restructure or extension from one of a few options, should the Steelers actually plan to sign DHB (also not a guarantee).

The new approach should fit a 16-16 team well; it's not as if the status quo has worked the last two seasons. If that means bringing in several players to compete for positions, sign away, Mr. Colbert.