Very rarely do the Steelers venture into free agency for anyone significant. But yesterday, the first day of free agency for 2014, they signed S Mike Mitchell, ex- of Carolina and Oakland. Five years, $25m.
He’s a good get.
Mitchell wasn’t highly regarded on the various NFL free agency rankings. But it’s all about fit. Mitchell slots in alongside S Troy Polamalu and adds a physical, head-hunting aspect to the Steelers’ defense. A good D intimidates. Mitchell adds that element. Ryan Clark handicapped Polamalu last year. Mitchell will help him.
Mitchell and Polamalu start. Shamarko Thomas continues his apprenticeship. Will Allen is an excellent backup.
Safety is covered. It’s now a position the Steelers don’t have to worry about in the draft. Some feel the Steelers should draft primarily defenders. I disagree. It’s a quick-strike, high-scoring league and QB Ben Roethlisberger can be an explosive weapon. The Steelers need to draft a big WR.
The Steelers especially have to do so if they expect Roethlisberger to give any sort of hometown discount on his next contract. Roethlisberger shouldn’t give back any money if it’s all going to be spent on defense.
CB Ike Taylor was supposed to make $7m. He’s going to make $2.75m instead. That’s not a cut. That’s an amputation.
Keeping Taylor is a mixed bag. Taylor knows the Steelers’ defense, and they have few options at corner. But, statistically, Taylor was the worst corner in football last year. At 33, he probably won’t play better. He’s definitely no longer good enough to cover the opposition’s top receiver one-on-one.