Within minutes of the opening of the legal tampering period on Monday, many of the more highly sought after free agents had already found new homes. For Pittsburgh Steelers fans who had dreams of a signing like linebackers like C.J. Mosley or Anthony Barr, the exorbitant contracts they have agreed to with the New York Jets should highlight just how far out the Steelers’ league they were.
In reality, Pittsburgh will not be chasing any of the marquee names still available when they finally dip their toe into the free agent waters, instead choosing to focus on players they will be able to sign to more modest contracts. Regardless of the amount of salary cap the Steelers currently have available, while they have the capacity to create as much as space as they need to sign the names that interest them, this has never been the Pittsburgh way. And that is not about to change in 2019.
Rather than waste you time with an article about fantasy free agents the Steelers will never get, we will focus our attention on players who might actually be in Pittsburgh’s price range this offseason, with these three names some of our favorite options for the Steelers to try and sign in the coming weeks.
CB, Pierre Desir
Pierre Desir topped my free agency wish list for the Black and Gold in 2018 and he is back on the open market once again this season after a successful year with the Indianapolis Colts on a one-year prove it deal. Named as a full-time starter by the Colts in Week 5, Desir would have the best season of his five-year career in Indianapolis once he established himself in their defense.
Pierre Desir made his name known with the Colts this season. pic.twitter.com/79QRMbxFIo— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) February 2, 2019
Pierre Desir led the league's cornerbacks by limiting QBs to just a 34.0 passer rating on throws to the intermediate range of the field (10-19 yards past LOS). pic.twitter.com/eA28pMjbGM— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 7, 2019
Desir only earned $1.75 million in 2018 and will undoubtedly be looking for a significant raise as part of a multi-year deal this offseason. Limited play in previous seasons should keep his price at the lower end of the scale among the more popular cornerbacks on the market and he should cost less than names like Bradly Roby who the Steelers have reportedly shown interested in.
More of a boundary corner that a slot player, Desir appears to offer Pittsburgh many of the qualities they lack in the rest of the names under contract at the position. Although strong in run support and blessed with good size at almost 6-foot-2 and 200-pounds, Desir may not have the history of turnovers the Steelers could be looking for in a free agent signing. But it would seem he ticks many of the other boxes.
While the former Lindenwood product might not be the top cornerback available this offseason, he is certainly among the more popular options for teams to consider. And if Pittsburgh is interested, they may need to move relatively quickly after Desir confirmed to BTSC last night that he hopes to have found a new home fairly soon.
WR, John Brown
Much like Desir, John Brown signed a one-year prove it deal with the Baltimore Ravens in 2018 in hopes of improving his status ahead of free agency this year. But while that ploy worked for Desir, Brown was not so fortunate, stuck with a combination of Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson at quarterback.
In fairness to Flacco, Brown started the season in convincing fashion with him under center, recording 601 yards through the first nine games. But once Jackson was inserted into the starting lineup, his stats dropped dramatically and he would finish with just 114 yards in the last seven games for a total of 715 yards on the season.
Brown was especially effective as a deep threat when given the opportunity to run those sort of routes earlier in the year and could figure to offer the Steelers the same option now that Antonio Brown has left. Notably free of the wide receiver diva attitude that appears to afflict some of his peers, Brown could also serve as the veteran presence Pittsburgh needs among a young group of receivers.
S, Tre Boston
If the Steelers are looking grant Morgan Burnett his request to leave this offseason, Tre Boston could be a value signing if Pittsburgh is looking to add another veteran to the group. A victim of a depressed safety market in 2018, Boston is another player who signed a one-year prove it deal last season for a mere $1.5 million.
Following on from an impressive season with Los Angeles Chargers in 2017, Boston was a solid presence in the Cardinals secondary all season, recording 79 tackles and three interceptions. Still only 26-years-old, the former North Carolina product could provide solid depth for a Pittsburgh defense lacking enough credible options at the position.
Much like Desir, Boston may not be the most in demand free agent safety available this offseason, but it should not be too long before he signs a deal somewhere.
Just got off the phone with impending FA safety Tre Boston. He told me he expects to be in the 2nd wave of safety signings. He told me "3 teams" have reached out to express some preliminary interest. 1 included the #Raiders who are reportedly now set to go with S Lamarcus Joyner.— ig: josinaanderson (@JosinaAnderson) March 12, 2019