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Grading the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Free Agent acquisitions to date

The Steelers have added two players at key positions. How do you grade those acquisitions?

New York Jets v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team with several needs across their roster. With the departure of a player like Antonio Brown, and the hole left at cornerback are glaring needs on the roster.

What did the Steelers do in the first week of free agency? They went out and signed a wide receiver and cornerback. Not in that order, and not to be the undoubted answer at their position, but to be there as depth and players who can contribute for a team who is trying to find the combination which can bring them a seventh Lombardi trophy.

This is where we will take a look at the signings, and give them a grade. Granted, their overall grade won’t be known until they don the black-and-gold in an actual regular season game. With that known, we can still grade the signing, who else was available, and the likelihood of the players not just playing, but performing well for the Steelers.

Let’s get to the grades, and make sure you not only vote in the polls below, but explain your grades in the comment section below!

(Editor’s Note: This article was written before the team acquired Mark Barron on Sunday evening. His grade will be addressed in a separate article.)

CB Steven Nelson

Former Team: Kansas City Chiefs
Contract: 3 Years
Expected Position: CB2

Many are viewing Nelson as the Steelers’ second option in the free agent cornerback search, and they would be right. The Steelers went after Bradley Roby as their top priority and offered him a three year contract. When he chose to sign with the Houston Texans on a one-year contract, the Steelers then targeted Nelson.

Despite this being the truth, Steelers fans shouldn’t downplay what Nelson can, and will, bring to the team. He is experienced at playing both inside and outside in the defensive backfield, and has a nose for the ball. His 4 interceptions last year would have been a team leading mark in 2018, and the last cornerback in Steelers history to notch 4 picks in a year was Deshea Townsend.

In other words, his ball skills will be more than welcome. Does he get a big grabby while in coverage, yes, but in a league where the rules are so slanted against the defender I personally am okay with a defender who is physical and takes away the football at the point of attack.

Nelson is an improving player, and if the Steelers can continue this trend, a huge if, then they absolutely should have an improved secondary not just in 2019, but beyond.

My Grade: B


What grade would you give the Steven Nelson signing?

This poll is closed

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    (2708 votes)
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    (572 votes)
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4128 votes total Vote Now

WR Donte Moncrief

Former Team: Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars
Contract: 2 Years
Expected Position: WR2

While Nelson was considered the Steelers’ second option at the free agents available in the position, some reports said the same about Moncrief. The Steelers were showing interest in Tyrell Williams, formerly of the Chargers, but Williams chose to go to the Oakland Raiders to play along side Antonio Brown.

The Steelers then moved to their second option, and it was Moncrief. Many fans have pointed to Moncrief’s poor stats last season as a reason to be skeptical of the addition, but you should remember who his quarterback was last season — Blake Bortles.

In fact, if you look at his entire career, his time with Indianapolis with both Andrew Luck and Jacoby Brissett looks to be a better picture of his potential production for the Steelers. With the Colts he had 1,875 yards receiving and 18 touchdowns. His final two seasons with Indianapolis were cut short with injury, and he had a revolving door of quarterbacks as Luck nursed a shoulder injury. Even in 2018, with Bortles at the helm, Moncrief put up 668 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Just imagine what he will be able to do with Ben Roethlisberger in the high-powered Steelers offense.

In other words, I don’t mind the signing at all, and think Moncrief will be a great addition to the team’s offense. He brings size, 6’2” 220 lbs, speed and is the outside threat the Steelers were wanting to obtain with the departure of Brown.

Does the signing of Moncrief mean the Steelers shouldn’t target a wide receiver in the draft? No, the absolutely should still add to the position, but Moncrief’s signing doesn’t make the need an immediate one throughout the three day process.

My Grade: B


What grade do you give the Donte Moncrief signing?

This poll is closed

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    (2197 votes)
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    (675 votes)
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    (66 votes)
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    (26 votes)
4029 votes total Vote Now

Be sure to vote in the polls above, and also let us know what you thought of the additions in the comment section below!