We all know what they say about hindsight. If only we could know exactly how things would pan out it would make a decision much easier. And when the Steelers made some free agent signings in the 2019 season, both of their own players and ones outside the organization, there was no way to know how they all would work out. Although several signings are ones some now wish the Steelers never made, I feel the one with multiple red flags ended up being the worst.
Most people believe the failed Donte Moncrief experiment would be the worst free-agent signing the Steelers had in 2019. Although no one believed Moncrief would magically forget how to catch a football after joining the Steelers, things just never worked out and the Steelers had to move on in order to receive their expected third-round compensatory draft pick.
The one thing about the Moncrief signing is it didn’t appear to be a bad idea at the time. In fact, I brought up the notion going into 2019 that the Steelers might have to part ways with Moncrief if the Eagles released L.J. Fort. I never thought it would ultimately come down to this situation, but I knew it was a possibility. And when I posed the question to fans here at Behind The Steel Curtain, they first thought the odds were close to impossible before overwhelmingly saying the Steelers would be better off keeping Moncrief than gaining the draft pick. Although the desire to keep their compensatory pick factored into his release, it was ultimately Moncrief’s production (or lack thereof) that was his downfall.
Another player some people feel may have not been the best free-agent signing was linebacker Mark Barron. Although he has cost the Steelers over $6 million so far, Barron at least had some on-field production and was available throughout the season. While he may not be kept for the 2020 season, I don’t think it was a horrible signing.
In my opinion, the worst signing the Steelers made last season was a player who they drafted before becoming a free agent who they chose to keep around. For the price they paid, and what they could’ve received by his departure, it really made no sense for the Steelers to sign Anthony Chickillo to a two-year deal worth $8 million.
It was reported that Chickillo was offered a deal with the New England Patriots last off-season but the Steelers chose to bring him back instead.
Patriots were in on Anthony Chickillo at similar deal to what he just signed with Pittsburgh, two years for $8 million. Chickillo said it was tempting but he wanted to win with Steelers. “It’s funny everybody’s counting us out,” Chickillo said. “You still have to play.”— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) March 13, 2019
If the Patriots offered the same deal the Steelers ultimately signed Chickillo to, the Steelers would have been in line for an additional compensatory draft pick for this season. More than likely a sixth-round pick, the Steelers would have another selection or would not have had to part ways with Moncrief in order to keep their third-round selection.
The reason the Chickillo signing was so head scratching is because the Steelers have paid him $3 million so far. While this number is less than the $4.29 million they ultimately paid Moncrief before his release or the $6.75 million they have paid Mark Barron so far, Chickillo was never tagged as a starter for the Steelers. He was merely a back up any special teams player.
Perhaps it was because it was the New England Patriots looking for the services of Chickillo which made the Steelers choose to bring him back. But actually getting a sixth-round pick in return for a player drafted in the sixth round isn’t so terrible.
It’s unclear at this time what the Steelers will do when it comes to Chickillo for the 2020 season. He is owed a $500,000 roster bonus on March 20, and if the Steelers were to move on before that time he would save $5 million against the salary cap for 2020. While the cap savings would be nice, it’s still frustrating to think the Steelers could have the draft pick for letting Chickillo go last season instead of keeping him around for one injury-plagued year in which he only registered 0.5 sacks and 19 tackles in 11 games. Now Chickillo would be leaving the Steelers with no compensation in return for over $1 million in dead money.
Perhaps signing Chickillo last off-season wasn’t as bad as the other moves, but it was even a head scratcher at the time. Adding Moncrieff and Barron to the Steelers roster for 2019 seemed like a great idea going in to training camp. But Chickillo’s deal was one that didn’t make sense last year and really looks bad after it all played out.