It was announced just prior to 5 p.m. EST on Monday that Patrick Peterson, a veteran cornerback formerly of the Cardinals and Vikings, agreed to a two-year deal with the Steelers.
Monday was the first day of legal tampering, the phase of the free-agent frenzy where players can agree to terms with teams but not officially sign with them just yet.
Man, Monday was a long day, wasn’t it? At least it was if you followed the Steelers' free-agent activity on Twitter, which was like listening to a child say, “MOMMY!” over and over again until Mom snapped and screamed, “‘What do you want?!?!”
“I want you to do something,” said the child. “What do you want me to do?" asked the mom.
Steelers fans, the children in this scenario, wanted the team, Mom, to be very active in the first hours of the free-agent frenzy (even if, again, no team was officially allowed to be active).
When are the Steelers ever very active in the first hours of the free-agent frenzy? Sure, there was the 2022 free-agent frenzy, but that was a rare occasion when Mom could splurge on many items thanks to a work “bonus.”
The Steelers began their 2023 free-agent frenzy with no such bonus, so to expect them to join in on the usual silliness was just plain silly.
And boy did it get silly right quick. Javon Hargrave, a former Steelers defensive lineman who spent the past three seasons with the Eagles, agreed to a four-year, $84-million deal with the 49ers.
Tremaine Edmunds, brother of Terrell and someone Steelers fans had hoped could be the free-agent answer to the huge Ryan Shazier void that still needs to be filled, agreed to a four-year, $72 million deal with the Bears ($50 million fully-guaranteed, btw).
Handsome Jimmy Garoppolo (I believe that’s now his legal name) agreed to a three-year deal with the Raiders for $68 million, with roughly $45 million of that fully guaranteed.
Oh yes, and let’s not forget about the three-year, $33 million contract Cam Sutton agreed to eventually sign with the Lions ($21 million of that is fully guaranteed, according to reports).
It was a shock that Sutton agreed to leave Pittsburgh, the only professional football home he ever knew prior to Monday, so soon after the start of the legal-tampering phase.
But, hey, $21 million in guaranteed money is hard to pass up (even from the Lions).
Ironically enough, Sutton, who the Steelers re-signed two years ago as a replacement slot corner for the departing Mike Hilton, wound up with way more guaranteed money than the $6 million that was part of Hilton’s four-year, $24 million deal with the Bengals.
I guess it’s all about timing when it comes to free agency. The NFL was coming off a COVID season in 2020, which meant that its revenues were down, which also meant that the salary cap was reduced.
At any rate, Steelers Twitter (and Steelers talk radio, for that matter) reacted to Sutton’s departure as if Mel Blount and Rod Woodson somehow produced offspring together and named him Cam Sutton.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Cam Sutton. I wanted the Steelers to retain Cam Sutton, but at $11 million per year, and with all of that guaranteed money?
It seems a bit steep for Sutton. You can argue that Sutton was more versatile than Hilton, and maybe even a better all-around player in Pittsburgh’s defense. But you’d likely have a harder time getting anyone to agree that Sutton made a bigger impact on the Steelers' defense than Hilton.
Thankfully, the Peterson deal was announced right about the time everyone started the whole “If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse” talk. Is Peterson an upgrade over Sutton? It’s hard to say at the age of 33 (Peterson will be that old by the time he plays meaningful snaps for the Steelers). But at least his two-year deal quieted social media for a while.
At least until Tuesday when Steelers Twitter woke up again and started posting those memes of the person poking the thing with a stick.