The Steelers solidified their offensive line today, or at least clarified it, by signing Willie Colon to a 5 year 29 million contract.
The move however, came at the cost of Flozell Adams. The team had hoped to get Adams to agree to take a pay cut to serve as a number 3 back up.
Colon’s move comes as somewhat of a surprise — the Steelers drafted him in 2006 had passed on a number of opportunities to sign him to a long-term deal.
But Colon wanted to stay in Pittsburgh, and took a home town discount to the tune of 3 million less than Chicago was putting on the table, to stay.
With the move complete, at this point it is the Steelers appear to be entering training camp with Jonathan Scott as their right tackle. Scott started for much of last year after injuries felled Max Starks mid season against Cincinnati.
Scott’s performance as a starter was so-so. Like all of the Steelers lineman he performed well enough to win under trying circumstances, but the Steelers really struggled to run to the left side, and Ben Roethlisberger, as always, was under pressure.
Behind the Steel Curtain’s Michael Bean predicted Max Stark’s departure, and argues that Scott provides better value at the position (Starks was set to make 7 million this year.) While Bean’s argument might make economic sense, Starks — when healthy — is a better tackle than Scott.
If Scott opens camp as a starter it by no means ensures that he’ll finish there. Chris Scott, the team’s 5th round draft pick in the 2010 NFL draft, will reportedly get a shot to start, as might Marcus Gilbert, the team’s 2nd round draft pick in the 2011 NFL draft.
And, just to keep things interesting, word is the Steelers might attempt to resign Max Starks at a lower salary, and option I consider to be unlikely.
Cameron Heyward Signs, Eason Departs
The Steelers signed first round draft pick Cameron Heyward. Terms of the deal were not released by the Post Gazette, but one must assume it is a four year deal. Prior to the current CBA the Steelers practice had been to sign first round draft picks to 5 year deals, but that is not prohibited.
Finally, Nick Eason is leaving to rejoin Ray Horton in Pittsburgh West aka the Arizona Cardinals. In four years with the Steelers Eason developed into a serviceable back up, but his departure perhaps gives Steve McLendon a chance to hold a roster spot.
What of William Gay and Chris Hoke?
While the Steelers lost 2007 draft pick and back up tight end Matt Speath to the Chicago Bears, free agents William Gay and Chris Hoke remain unsigned.
Many fans might welcome Gay’s departure, but Gay is a decent third corner back and the Steelers have little proven depth at that position.
Resigning Chris Hoke is a must. Hoke generates little ink, but Chris Hoke steps up and gets the job done when called upon, which is no small feat when you’re talking about your back up nose tackle in a 3-4 defense….
Thanks for visiting. Click here to read the rest of Steelers 2011 Free Agent Focus series. Or follow us on Twitter @SteelCurtainRis.