When news of Alex Smith being traded to the Washington Redskins hit the wire, the next big question became, “Where will Kirk Cousins play next season?”
Teams like the Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings, among others, will all be in the running for Cousins’ talents next season, but while teams salivate over the prospects of a mid-tier quarterback, fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers should remember how their favorite team likes to remain on the periphery.
The Steelers, like almost every other NFL franchise, will indeed be players in free agency, but the players fans always want them to target will go elsewhere. Sure, the Steelers dabbled in the Dont’a Hightower sweepstakes last offseason, but most of us knew how that scenario would end up. Instead, the team settled for their “style” of free agent pickups. Tyson Alualu, Coty Sensabaugh and eventually Joe Haden all are typical Pittsburgh pick ups in free agency.
The team likes veterans who have both versatility and experience. All three of the aforementioned players encompassed those traits, and this theory will continue as the team approaches another free agency period in the near future.
Why do the Steelers shy away from free agency? For multiple reasons. First, they typically don’t have the money to spend on the high-priced players hitting the market (like this year), they fear the fall out if the player doesn’t pan out (see: Mike Mitchell) and they ultimately like to grow their team through the NFL Draft.
However, it doesn’t mean the team just sits on their hands when a slew of new talent hits the open market. You can look at the team’s history and see several players who were added to the team, and have played huge roles in the team’s overall success.
Players like: James Farrior, Ryan Clark and Kimo Von Oelhoffen — just to name a few.
Will the team find the proverbial diamond in the rough in free agency this year? Or will they stumble upon Cam Thomas again? Either way, fans should understand the team will be looking, but expectations should remain tempered. Both the salary cap situation, and the history of the team focusing on players who fit their system reign supreme, not just the overall price tag of a player.
There will still be those fans who scream and yell at the team’s lack of movement in free agency, but their theory has worked, for the most part. They sit back and watch teams like the Washington Redskins pay too much for players on the back end of their careers, and are repeatedly forced start over. The Steelers are not anywhere near that situation where they would need to partake in these type of moves.
When all is said and done, fans should just sit back and trust the process, because, when it comes to free agency, the Steelers may not be perfect, but they hit way more than they miss throughout the process.