For those of you weekday readers of this website, you might not be familiar with my Letter From the Editor column which usually runs on Sunday mornings. That is until Antonio Brown gets traded to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday morning and throws everything off.
I still wanted to get my thoughts out there, and what better day to do so on the first day of NFL Free Agency.
Wait, what’s that? A ton of players have already agreed on terms with new teams? Yes, the NFL’s tampering period has completely taken the gusto out of the first official day of the new league year, but it doesn’t change the impetus of this article. As I sit and think about players who are pondering which organization will be their next NFL home, is Pittsburgh still high on their list?
There was a time when playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and even playing for Mike Tomlin, were on everyone’s football bucket list. If you weren’t going to be with an organization like the New England Patriots, the next best thing would be the other franchise with six Lombardi trophies. Players would talk about going to Pittsburgh on a visit and walking down the hallway where those trophies reside, and being awestruck.
But is this still the case?
After Antonio Brown did as much desecrating to the franchise as humanly possible on his way out, and Le’Veon Bell sat out for an entire season rather than playing for the black-and-gold, do players still find Pittsburgh to be a desirable landing spot in free agency?
If Tuesday was any indication, this answer isn’t a slam dunk.
Tuesday the Steelers offered free agent cornerback Bradley Roby a three year contract, and he turned it down to play one year for the Houston Texans. Was some of this financially driven? Absolutely. Roby took a “show-me” deal in hopes of elevating his overall status after next season when he hits the open market again.
But did “Team Turmoil” have anything to do with it?
Have the “NFL Kardashians” made players think twice about heading to the 412 area code?
If players are smart, now would be the time to jump on board. After all, with Brown and Bell gone the Steelers have a very solid locker room. There aren’t a lot of egos in the room, and other than the tarnished reputation of Ben Roethlisberger, as a player/leader, the Steelers could, and probably should, be a very good team in 2019.
Ultimately, most of the decisions made in NFL Free Agency comes down to money. For instance, if a player is offered an $80 million dollar contract from the Jets, but the Steelers can only offer $20 due to salary cap restrictions, the decision is easy. You cash in while you can.
However, if two teams are offering essentially the same offer, would the Steelers win out? That isn’t an easy answer, but with Brown and Bell gone the hope is the overall perception of the Steelers starts to turn around and head in the right direction.