Steelers Sign Darrius Heyward-Bey, Brice McCain, Bolstering Depth

The Pittsburgh Steelers started this NFL Free Agency signing period with an unusual burst of activity and they show no signs of letting up. After the Steelers signed LeGarrette Blount, ESPN’s Scott Brown opined that the Steelers were more or less done with free agency and would turn their attention to the 2014 NFL Draft.

Brown was wrong, as the Steelers signed free agent corner Brice McCain and now have come to terms with speedy wide out Darrius Heyward-Bey. That, on top of the Steelers decision to resign Max Starks (or was that just an April Fools joke?) marks the most aggressive free agent signing spree in Steelers history.

Bargain Hunting, Steelers Style

While the moves to bring in talent from the outside are not characteristic of “The Steelers Way” one should not confuse the Steelers for engaging in Daniel Snyder like buying binge.

The rest of the moves provide depth, with the possible exception of Cam Thomas, who is the Steelers only other experienced NFL defensive end aside from Cameron Heyward. Lance Moore and LeGarrette Blount both signed deals trending toward the NFL’s middle class range, albeit on the lower end there.

Arthur Moats, Brice McCain and Darrius Heyward-Bey all signed short term, low or no signing bonus deals that represent very little risk to the Steelers should they not pan out and/or should a Steelers rookie push them for a roster spot during training camp at Latrobe.

Reinforcing Depth, Fostering Competition

The moves also add depth and speed at two critical positions.

It is the Steelers hope an plan that Markus Wheaton emerges to occupy the split end position opposite that of Antoino Brown, with Lance Moore playing the role of number 3 slot receiver. However, Heyward-Bey’s presence will push both men as well as any rookie brought in during the draft.

In the secondary the Steelers appear set with Ike Taylor, William Gay, and Cortez Allen as their top three corners, although the actual pecking order there is not set. Brice, who was rated by Pro Football Focus as the worst cornerback in the NFL, will not likely push any of those men.

Brice McCain provide experience behind that trio, and while he struggled during the last two seasons for the Houston Texans, he could very well benefit from the tutelage of Carnell Lake.

One area where the Steelers still lack depth is defensive line, leading to speculation that the door remains open for Brett Keisel’s return.

Thanks for visiting. Click here for the rest of Steel Curtain Rising or here to see our Steelers 2014 Free Agent Focus.

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