One of the hallmarks of the Bill Cowher era of was that the Steelers offensive lines for those years comprised a Who’s Who of AFC Pro Bowlers. But as Bobby Dillion wrote “the times, they are a changing.”
The move comes as no surprise. Smith’s contract had expired, and the Steelers had made it clear that they were not going to attempt to bring him back when they used the franchise tag on Max Starks.
End of an Era?
Marvel Smith was the only Steelers lineman with Pro Bowl experience, and his departure marks the end of an era, assuming that none of the Steelers offensive lineman make the 2010 Pro Bowl.
The Steelers have a Pro Bowler or a Pro Bowl experienced offensive lineman in the starting line up every season since Mike Webster made the 1979 Pro Bowl. That isn’t quite the same as sending an lineman to the Pro Bowl ever year – there were plenty of years when no Steeler earned that distinction, but they always had someone who had been there, someone who was capable of that caliber of play.
Smith’s age and chronic back problems certainly conspired against him. Steelers made the assessment that Smith was no longer capable of Pro Bowl caliber play, and they made the right decision.
The Steelers had attempted to resign him on the eve of the regular season, only to be rebuffed – this came on the heels of Smith’s first round of back surgery. The Steelers swore
He started the season well, but got injured again against Jacksonville. The Steelers kept him on the active roster until the end of the year, but and ended up needing back surgery again and went on IR. The 49ers apparently offered Smith very little guaranteed money, as indicated by the article announcing his signing.
Thanks for visiting. You can follow all of the Steelers free agent moves in our Steelers 2009 free agent focus series.