Depth at many different positions, including safety, was a concern for the Steelers during the offseason.
As it pertained to safety, who would the Steelers sign during the unrestricted free agency period? Nobody.
How about the 2020 NFL Draft? Would Pittsburgh address the need for safety depth then? Sort of, that is if you consider selecting a safety in the sixth round out of Maryland—Antoine Brooks—addressing the position. Considering Brooks didn’t make the final 53-man roster, however, you may have wished for some addressing a few rounds higher.
The Steelers did ultimately sign a veteran at the position at the onset of training camp— Curtis Riley, who came to Pittsburgh after stints with the Titans, Giants and Raiders, respectively. You heard some good things about Riley during the Steelers just-completed training camp at Heinz Field. It was said that he had shown enough that the depth Pittsburgh was looking for at the safety position, well, it was in good hands. In fact, Riley made the Steelers final 53-man roster on Saturday.
Unfortunately for Riley, no 53-man NFL roster is ever final, and on Sunday, Riley was sent packing—at least to the practice squad—and in his place, Sean Davis, who played the position in Pittsburgh from 2016-2019 before signing and then being cut by the Washington Football Team in the offseason, was signed back to the team.
It took a while, but the Steelers finally found their adequate depth at safety, and it will be provided by a man who gave them more than adequate starter reps for four years at both strong and free safety.
Davis can also play the slot position, or at least he could during his rookie season of 2016.
Talk about position flexibility.
See? There’s more to an offseason than the initial free agency period. There’s also more to the offseason than the draft. You never know when you’re going to find what you’re looking for. It could be during the free agent frenzy that you find your backup safety, but it could also be much later.
You could find a game-changing corner in free agency or even the draft. But sometimes, on those rarest of occasions, you’ll discover him just days before the start of the regular season, thanks to the Cleveland Browns and their desire to cut ties with him.
Heck, for that matter, you could find a game-changing starting safety during the season, which is what the Steelers did last September when Minkah Fitzpatrick desperately wanted out of Miami.
What’s the moral to this story? Sometimes you have to see the forest for the trees. Sometimes you have to visit that forest a bit longer. If you do, you just might find the safety depth you are looking for.