In case you weren’t paying attention (I wasn’t) the Steelers signed Daimion Stafford last week in an effort to bolster their depth at safety behind Sean Davis, Mike Mitchell, Robert Golden and Jordan Dangerfield.
- The move highlights two rather obvious trends, the latter of which can still sneak up on you.
First, as has been apparent for quite some time, the move drove the final nail in the coffin of the Shamarko Thomas debacle at safety. The Pittsburgh Steelers gave up on Shamarko in 2015 when the benched him in favor of Will Allen prior to the season opener vs. the Patriots. They next dispelled any remote possibility of second thoughts by playingJordan Dangerfield over Shamarko early in 2016.
- You knew that, we knew that, but perhaps Shamarko Thomas didn’t quite know that, as he signed with the Jets a day later.
Dare we suggest Shamarko Thomas was holding out hopes that the Steelers would bring him back thanks to his special teams prowess? Maybe he did. The case for bringing back Shamarko Thomas on a veteran minimum contract to play gunner was reasonably strong. But Shamarko Thomas’ free agent profile came with a big “But” which we’ll remind everyone of here:
But the truth is even if the Steelers bring Shamarko Thomas back on a veteran minimum salary to play special teams, that means that he’ll be taking a roster spot that could be occupied by another young player who can both do Shamarko’s job on special teams, and potentially contribute something, either now or in a future season, to the offense or defense.
By the look of things, this is exactly what the Steelers are getting in Daimion Stafford.
Like Shamarko Thomas (and Jarvis Jones), Daimion Stafford arrived in the NFL via the now much-maligned 2013 NFL Draft. Unlike Shamarko Thomas, Daimion Stafford was a 7th round draft pick. And also unlike Shamarko Thomas, Daimion Stafford has actually delivered some value in the secondary.
Per Pro Football Reference’s stats, Daimion Stafford has appared in 62 games as a professional for the Tennessee Titans, and even started in 6 games. That’s six more starts than Shamarko has to his name. He also has 2 interceptions, which is two more than Shamarko Thomas. He also has three sacks and three fumble recoveries.
As Steel City Insider’s Jim Wexell reports, a source in Nashville characterizes Stafford as:
A decent role player who will help best on special teams. He’s a big hitter but limited in man coverage, better in zone. Not afraid to come up in run support and doesn’t mind being physical.
- That sounds exactly like the resume of someone who can do what Shamarko did and offer more.
To the extent that a team’s number 5 safety can continue to a Super Bowl, run Daimion Stafford is the perfect kind of player for the Steelers to take a flyer on.
(And onean’t help but wonder who was Wexell’s source, given that Dick LeBeau, Desha Townsend, Lou Spanos, Nick Eason and Keith Willis are defensive coaches for the Titans, with Russ Grimm and Mike Mularkey also the offensive side.)
Steelers Daimion Stafford Signing Highlights Headline Glut
The other interesting thing about the Steelers signing Daimion Stafford is how it highlights the dangers of the headline glut we face in today’s fractured media landscape.
Had the Steelers made this type of move in the late 80’s or early 1990’s, out of town fans would have learned of it through the Steelers Digest or perhaps in the “transactions” section of their local sports page. With the mid-1990’s came the internet, and it’s a fair bet to say that the Tribune Review and/or Pittsburgh Post Gazette would have run a short article on the move. Things would have been much the same during most of the 00’s, except that fans would have had several more outlets to get the news.
- Now of course the number of sites publishing articles announcing the Steelers signing of Daimion Stafford on the subject has exploded.
That’s important because the Steelers are making many roster moves at this time of the year, although the vast majority of them involved undrafted rookie free agents and other players who’ve been signed to “Futures Contracts.” As a consequence, when I saw the headline “Steelers Sign Stafford” I assumed he was just another one of those.
Instead, he’s a free agent signing, albeit a very low level one, but one that could have an impact in 2017.
And with so much clutter floating around, there, yours truly almost missed it…..