In my opinion, there are three waves of NFL Free Agency. The first wave is the most exciting, and also the most competitive. Teams from across the league all go after the players who are looking for a new home, and it is typically the highest bidder who is claiming victory...at least in the short term.
The second wave of free agency happens roughly a month before the NFL Draft. With the first wave of free agency finally calming down, players who remain on the open market are hoping a team comes calling before the draft. It might be their last chance at serious leverage in negotiations. On top of the player perspective, teams are looking to check all of their proverbial boxes of team needs before the three-day selection process begins.
The third, and final, wave of free agency doesn’t happen until post-NFL Draft. While this can be a painstaking wait for veteran players who aren’t under contract, for teams who still have a glaring need which wasn’t able to be addressed in the draft, the players can obtain the last bit of leverage they could ever garner in the process.
The first wave of free agency has calmed, and the second wave is just picking up. When you look at the Pittsburgh Steelers players who have come and gone in just the last 48 hours, it is quite impressive.
Gone: Steven Sims, Trent Scott, Terrell Edmunds
Coming: Zach Gentry, Le’Raven Clark
Of course, whenever the organization makes moves in free agency there will be plenty of critics out to make their opinions known. This certainly was the case when Edmunds signed a one-year deal with the Eagles. Likewise, Scott and Sims both signed one-year deals with their respective teams.
What fans should remember is there are no guarantees in free agency. Sure, you’re talking about NFL veterans who have experience in the league, but if they’ll fit your system, mesh in the locker room, and have a clean bill of health cannot be predicted by even a Hall of Fame scout. The hope is you hit more than you miss in free agency, and the misses are not the big-money players who could weigh heavily on the team’s salary cap for years to come.
With the acquisitions made thus far for the Steelers, not just those in the last 48 hours, there is no guarantee any of these players will work out for the team.
For every Kevin Greene there is a Morgan Burnett.
For every James Farrior there is a Ladarius Green.
You get the picture, but if you recall those aforementioned players who didn’t pan out, you’ll remember the fan base extremely happy with the signings. Burnett was going to be a steady force in the secondary with plenty of veteran leadership, and Green was going to be the athletic tight end both the offense, and Ben Roethlisberger, desired.
That’s because there are no guarantees in free agency.
So, what’s the moral of this story? Simple. Hold your criticism until you see how they fit with the team. The hope is all players signed are healthy and ready to play from Day 1, but also to see if the hype, or lack thereof, was actually worth it.
Patience, it’s lost on many, but is still a solid way to view the upcoming 2023 Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster.
(Note: The Letter From the Editor feature runs every Sunday morning during the Steelers offseason.)