The start of the 2016 new league year is right around the corner and some teams are already parting ways with players. The Pittsburgh Steelers clearly have to work on their secondary this offseason and some familiar veterans could help the Steel City get back to the promised land.
Free agency normally assists a team that is in disarray whether it is on offense or defense. Last year the Steelers signed 32-year old veteran running back DeAngelo Williams, who proved to be a complete steal of free agency. Williams provided a spark that was needed after Le'Veon Bell tore his medial collateral ligament (MCL) at the beginning of the season. Back in 2014, the organization picked up strong safety Mike Mitchell in free agency. Mitchell had a rough first season after a groin injury plagued him, but he improved greatly leading the team in interceptions (3) in 2015. These are just two free agent players the Steelers picked up in the last two years who have made an immediate impact when put into the lineup.
On March 9th, the new league year begins. The Steelers ranked 30th in the NFL in passing yards allowed, with 271.9 yards per game. The secondary is Pittsburgh's kryptonite and it certainly needs to be addressed to make this team succeed going forward.
Even though it may be uncharacteristic and a bold move, the Steelers should give some consideration to a player who has succeed for many years, Eric Weddle. Weddle has been in the league for nine years and has a career full of highlight reel plays. He has played in 137 total football games, he racked up 850 total tackles, registered 6.5 sacks, forced 5 fumbles, and intercepted quarterbacks 19 times.
While Weddle was placed on injured reserved this year and missed three games, these three missed games were the only games he has missed in the last 6 seasons. He has been a durable player for many years and has stated he would take a pay cut to play for a team that has the potential to win a Super Bowl. While the yearly market value of Weddle could be around $6-$7 million this offseason, this could end up being too expensive for the Steelers organization. This does not mean Weddle couldn't end up in the Steel City. He could ask for a pay cut just because he wants to take a shot at winning his first Super Bowl with Pittsburgh. So, would Weddle accept a yearly average of around $4.5 million? I believe if it comes down to playing in Pittsburgh and a shot at a Super Bowl -- then yes.
If you want to talk about a free agent who would be a somewhat solid, cheap, fit for the Steelers, former Houston Texans safety Rahim Moore comes to mind. Moore is a young player at the age of 26 who has had many solid performances so far in this career. Although, last season with the Texans, Moore was benched for poor play. He did register one interception in the seven games he played in, and had an additional two more that were nullified by penalties.
The Texans signed Moore to a three-year, $12 million dollar contract last offseason. This would be way too much money for a player who did struggle at the safety position last season, but Moore's market value could be lower than $12 million, and if so, the Steelers could sign him to a one-year deal (similar to the contract they gave Brice McCain in 2013) just in case any key players gets hurt next season. If you didn't know, the Steelers defensive backs coach is Carnell Lake, who was a former corner for Pittsburgh. He does have a link to Rahim Moore when they were both at UCLA in 2009. Lake was a coach and Moore, at the time led the nation with 10 interceptions, along with 49 tackles and was named to the 2009 All Pac-10 first team.
There is no complete guarantee that two of last year's safeties, * Robert Golden and Will Allen, will get re-signed. This opens all possibilities even when some players could have struggled, or are maybe past their prime. Both Rahim Moore and Eric Weddle are two safeties that I believe could be a solid fill in until the organization drafts a player for the future.