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When evaluating the Steelers' free-agent acquisitions, don't forget Arthur Moats

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Much has been written about the Pittsburgh Steelers' inability to find quality players through free-agency after the 2013 season concluded. One player most are forgetting is outside linebacker Arthur Moats.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers rarely go out and spend big dollars through free agency. They spent more this off-season for players like Mike Mitchell and Cam Thomas than usual, but still modest numbers compared to other franchises. While the free-agent class of 2013 has been everything but tarred and feathered by Steelers fans, people might be forgetting Arthur Moats among this year's free-agent class.

Moats has been a bright spot in an otherwise dreary group of new players brought in from other venues. Moats signed a one-year, $795,000 contract to play in Pittsburgh and he's earning his money for Mike Tomlin and company.

When signed, Moats was tagged as a special-teams ace, a player with a high football-IQ and a flexible player who can back up any of the four linebacker positions in the 3-4 scheme. Due to injuries in the LB unit, Moats has done all that and then some.

Through 13 games, Moats has played sparingly in the base defense, but with James Harrison's knee injury keeping him out of the lineup against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 14, Moats took advantage of the opportunity with two sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Moats has four sacks on the season, which has him third on the team behind Cameron Heyward (5) and Jason Worilds (4.5) in that category.

Moats is having the best statistical season of his career since coming from the Buffalo Bills. In Buffalo, his highest sack totals were 2.5 in consecutive years to begin his career out of James Madison University.

For Moats, coming from Buffalo where the best record he ever experienced was no better than 6-10, this season has been enjoyable, to say the least.

"Crazy," Moats told Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "To be here in this position late in the year with three games left and you have a chance to win the division and it's all on you, it's a great feeling. It's a lot more pressure, but it definitely is a good feeling."

Moats was praised by Mike Tomlin in his weekly press conference, but his playing time moving forward likely will hinge on the status of Harrison's knee throughout the week.

"Going forward we will see how it goes with (Harrison) getting ready to come back. Either way, it'll be exciting." Moats said.

Moats has certainly played up to his contract and could possibly be making himself a better deal this off-season if his play continues to improve, even in a limited role. With Moats playing well, it might be wise for the Steelers to give him more snaps throughout the remainder of the season to see if he can provide a spark to a defense that desperately needs one.

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