So far in free agency, Pittsburgh has resigned TE David Johnson and QB2 Landry Jones. Outside of their own guys, they took low-risk flyers on Buffalo WR Justin Hunter, RB Knile Davis of Kansas City, CB Coty Sensabaugh and most recently DL Tyson Alualu from Jacksonville. All positions that had issues at depth and sorely needed to be addressed.
The Steelers made their fourth and fifth moves of free agency on Monday and all five aren't sexy one iota, kappa, lambda or mu. Actually, they're more Omega Mu (Revenge of the Nerds reference) than anything. Sexy doesn't always get you to the desired finish in football, or in life, but it always costs you a whole hell of a lot of money. And sometimes a lot of aggravation.
To quote the legendary Rolling Stones, "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you get what you need." For me, I'm in favor of the 1:55 am pick up of semi-attractive bar stragglers and leftovers at the end of a Saturday night...and apparently Kevin Colbert is also. Some teams shop at Saks Fifth Avenue, the Steelers spend their cold-hard cash at Dollar General. And that's okay. Now they did stagger over to the luxury aisle when courting Dont'a Hightower, but his services weren't actually for sale to anybody other than Robert Kraft and company in New England. They also weren't afraid to go shopping on football's equivalent to Rodeo Drive to re-up Antonio Brown and most likely will again with Lev Bell. Contrary to popular belief...they'll spend money, but it's obviously got to be on a product they are familiar with. When it comes to other team's players, it's the bargain bin for "the Burgh".
The bottom line is that none of the offseason moves made by the black and gold are indeed mouth-watering gotta-haves. But do they really need to be? We fans want sexy. We think we need sexy. But the Steelers have proved, over and over, that sexy isn't always conducive to success. Pittsburgh has a "piece-of-the-puzzle" philosophy when it comes to personnel. It works. They know more than we do. Think about the following Colbert purchases...
Kimo von Oelhoffen (2000) - Definitely not sexy, but this guy did the grunt work on the defensive line. Kimo started 94 of 95 games in six seasons with the Steelers and had 20.5 sacks. In six previous seasons with Cincinnati, Oelhoeffen had only five sacks.
Jeff Hartings (2001) - Not sexy, but a Pro Bowler and a SB champion and another linchpin in a long line of stand-out centers.
James Farrior (2002) - Not sexy, but was a two-time SB champ and Pro Bowler and runner-up Defensive Player of the Year in 2004.
Ryan Clark (2006) - Not sexy, but a Pro Bowler, Super Bowl champ, fierce hitter and vocal leader. All for $7 Million over four years.
Mewelde Moore (2008) - Nowhere near sexy. But Steeler Nation cherishes the signing of the backup RB that filled-in for Willie Parker a lot and scored at crucial junctures. Moore was a key cog on the road to Super Bowl 43.
DeAngelo Williams (2015) - Not sexy, but kept them afloat and even was a league leader in rushing (at times) when Le'Veon Bell went down, or got suspended.
Other notable signings of the last 17 years:
Brent Alexander (2000)
Rich Tylski (2000)
Tommy Maddox (2001)
Mike Logan (2001)
Terrance Mathis (2002)
Charlie Batch (2002)
Clint Kriewaldt (2003)
Jay Riemersma (2003)
Chris Gardocki (2004)
Duce Staley (2004)
Cedrick Wilson (2005)
Tyrone Carter (2005)
Keyaron Fox (2008)
Justin Hartwig (2008)
Will Allen (2010)
Larry Foote (Returned 2010)
Jericho Cotchery (2011)
Bruce Gradkowski (2013)
William Gay (Returned 2013)
Mike Mitchell (2014)
Arthur Moats (2014)
Darius Heyward-Bey (2014)
Brice McCain (2014)
Chris Boswell (2015)
Ricardo Matthews (2016)
None of these guys were gamebreakers, but they were all productive members of a team. When I mention "piece of the puzzle" guys, I'm talking about guys that aren't "me" guys. They aren't divas. They are guys that when put together with like players, work as a machine and together as a single unit. I recall when the Redskins signed Albert Haynesworth back in 2009, Washington fans called in sports radio as the news broke and bemoaned the eventual disaster that was the $100 Million dollar deal. They asked the hosts why their team couldn't be more like the Steelers and sign "puzzle pieces". That struck a chord with me.
So, as much as I don't love the return of Landry Jones, they addressed the position of QB2. They gave pass catchers at TE in Ladarius Green and Jesse James a blocking partner in Johnson, but it's imperative to have a blocking specialist at that position and they got it on the cheap. They needed a tall WR and brought in potential with Justin Hunter and coupled this with an effective position coach in Richard Mann. A return man and younger backup rusher was addressed with the Davis signing and depth at corner was added with Sensabaugh. Alaulu’s signing brings depth to the interior of the d-line. More "puzzle pieces" will be added too. They can be when you're not blowing your whole cash wad at once.
Colbert knows how to stretch a budget. It's worked before. Maybe that's the new sexy.
And that's truly okay. It has to be.