ICYMI (I Know I Did) Steelers Sign Daimion Stafford Highlighting Headline Glut

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.
Daimion Stafford, Steelers sign Daimion Stafford

Steelers signed free agent safety Daimion Stafford from the Titans, ending the “Shamarko Thomas” era. Photo Credit: Titainsonline.com

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…..

Struggling to keep up with Steelers free agency? Click here for our Steelers 2017 Steelers Free Agent tracker and/or click here for all Steelers 2017 free agency focus articles.

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Steelers Sign Tyson Alualu. Has John Mitchell Found the Coveted “4th Lineman” for His Rotation?

After remaining relatively inactive during the first wave of free agency, Pittsburgh as been busy this week signing three players into days with the franchise’s latest acquisition seeing the Steelers sign Tyson Alualu the free agent defensive lineman from Jacksonville to a two year contract.

  • During the 2010 NFL Draft the Jacksonville Jaguars surprised the rest of the league when they drafted Tyson Alualu with the 10th overall pick.

Since then Tyson Alualu has had a solid, but hardly spectacular career, although it should be noted that he did make several “All Rookie teams” in 2010, per reporting by Jim Wexell on Steel City Insider.

Tyson Alualu, Steelers 2017 free agents, Steelers defensive line

Steelers reserve defensive lineman Tyson Alualu in Pittsburgh after arriving as a free agent. Photo Credit: Ed Bouchette, Post-Gazette

With seven seasons under his belt, Tyson Alualu provides a perfect example of a player who may not have lived up to his lofty draft status, but is very far from being a bust. He’s never missed a game due to injury, he brings the Steelers 88 games of starting experience, 17.5 sacks, and offers position flexibility with the ability to play either nose tackle or defensive end.

All of this must make for pure music in the ears of Steelers defensive line coach John Mitchell

Does John Mitchell Finally Have his Coveted 4th Lineman?

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive line coach John Mitchell has been with the team since the fall of 1994, having replace Steve Furness as part of Bill Cowher‘s coaching purge following the 1993 season. During John Mitchell’s watch and, particularly during the Kevin Colbert era, the Steelers defensive line has been a model of stability.

While each of those starters played a critical role in securing Lombardi Trophies in Super Bowl XL and Super Bowl XLIII, their impact and importance of their understudies cannot be under stated. John Mitchell’s system relies heavily on rotating defensive lineman in and out throughout the game.

  • But for Mitchell’s system to be effective, the Steelers can’t suffer a drop of in quality of play when the starter has taken a breather.

For a long time, players like Chris Hoke, Travis Kirschke and Nick Eason were good enough to allow Mitchell rotate Keisel, Smith and Hampton in out as needed. In his two years in Pittsburgh, Al Woods looked he was growing into that same role but the Steelers stint in salary cap purgatory in prevented the team from keeping Al Woods in Pittsburgh in 2014.

They signed Cam Thomas instead, who was decidedly not up to the role. Daniel McCullers whom the Steelers drafted during the 2014 NFL Draft has flashed, but has yet to show he can take that role. Ricardo Mathews performed well after Cam Hewyard was lost for the season and so did L.T. Walton.

  • But the Steelers appear to have found an upgrade from both men in Tyson Alualu.

During the heyday of Aaron Smith, Casey Hampton and Brett Keisel’s tenures, John Mitchell quipped – not altogether jokingly – the he would retire when this trio began their “Life’s Work.” The arrival of Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt and most recently Javon Hargrave has provided Mitchell with another fearsome threesome.

Tyson Alualu just might provide the type of talent and stability that Mitchell needs to get his rotation humming.

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Arthur Moats Free Agent Analysis, Sizing Up Under Appreciated Steelers Linebacker

Few paid attention when Arthur Moats joined the Steelers a year ago, but his status as a Steelers free agent will be watched closely throughout Steelers Nation.

Capsule Profile of Arthur Moats with the Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers were incredibly active in the free agent market during the 2014 off season. Suffice to say the arrivals of Mike Mitchell, Lance Moore and Cam Thomas generated far more interest and excitement than did the Steelers decision to sign Arthur Moats.

  • Yet, perhaps it was Moats who had the last laugh, as he arguably out performed all three of them.

With four seasons as a part time starter for the Buffalo Bills, Moats brought Pittsburgh a pedigree of a part time starter. He wasn’t expected to play much, but the injury to Jarvis Jones changed that. Moats came in that night and almost immediately registered another sack.

While that move was impressive, the Steelers depth was thin (to say the least) and Mike Tomlin wasted no time in taking the Red Phone to James Harrison. Harrison’s return was one of the biggest stories of the season for the Steelers – for good reason, as he played incredibly well.

  • But that overshadowed some solid play for Moats at key moments during the season.

Moats came up with a sack in the Steelers win vs. the Ravens on Sunday Night Football. He also came up with key sacks and a fumble recovery in the road victory over Cincinnati, a game which in many ways served as a pivotal moment for the Steelers defense. Overall he had 23 tackles, forced two fumbles, and ESPN credited him with one “stuff.”

The Case for Keeping Arthur Moats

Despite his strong play in key situations, Moats does not project into a full-time starter at outside linebacker. But the Steelers don’t need him to be. Moats has shown that he can do what a backup is supposed to do – to step in when needed and contribute.

He looks like a serviceable player, one who could play the type of role at outside linebacker that Nick Eason and/or Travis Kirschke played at defensive end. Beyond that, Moats also has experience playing inside linebacker, adding valuable position flexibility to the defense.

The Case Against Keeping Arthur Moats

It’s hard to write this and keep a straight face, but due diligence demands it, so here goes. The Steelers need their outside linebackers to be stars. Sure Arthur Moats is “serviceable” but he’s hardly a star. Going on age 27 after 5 years in the NFL what you see from Arthur Moats is what you get. How much more “upside” does Moats have?

As for position flexibility, the Steelers have Ryan Shazier, Vince Williams, Sean Spence, and Terence Garvin the later of whom couldn’t even get on the field.

Sure the Steelers need “depth” at outside linebacker, but is Moats really the best they can do?

Curtain’s Call on Steelers and Arthur Moats

In the final analysis Moats is a great fit for the Steelers. While he’s no world beater, he is a solid player who came in, learned the system, and stepped up to make plays at critical moments during the season.

The Steelers need to be cautious here. Moats is not going to get “gobs” of money thrown at him, but he could easily fall into the category of free agents that the Steelers found Jerricho Cotchery and Al Woods falling into in last year, players who get offered more than the Steelers expected or were prepared to pay.

In that sense, the Steelers would be wise to get Moats locked down to a 2-3 year deal before he hits the open market.

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Steelers Free Agent Focus: Unrestricted Free Agents, Part I

The NFL Lockou…. er, um, free agent signing period is about to start.

Seriously, the NFL Players and Owners are headed to a work stoppage. But at some point there will be some kind of free agency, and here is a look at some of the decisions the Steelers face:

Ike Taylor – Drafted in 2003, Ike Taylor has been a fixture at corner for the Steelers, save his mid-season benching at during Bill Cowher’s final year. Taylor is the team’s top corner. He does not have the interceptions to be considered an elite corner in the league. At age 31, this figures to be Taylor’s last big money contract.

Cutting to the Chase on Ike Taylor: The Steelers need Ike Taylor, and after having franchised him he appears to be their top priority. Taylor is never going to evolve into a shut down corner at this stage of his career, but if he will never be a “great” corner in this league is already a very good one.

  • Expect Taylor to stay.

Nick Eason – Joined the team as an unrestricted free agent in 2007 and has served as a reliable back up, rotating into the starting role in the face of injuries to Casey Hampton, Brett Keisel and Aaron Smith. In five starts in 2010, Eason recorded 1.5 sacks.

Cutting to the Chase on Nick Eason: Eason gives you everything you want in a back up, versatility, knowledge of the system, enough ability to so that opposing offenses know he is no push over, and an ability to make a play.

  • The Steelers should and most likely will bring Eason back.

Jonathan Scott – Joined the team as an unrestricted free agent in 2010, largely on the strength of his relationship with offensive line coach Sean Klugler and his ability to play in a “musical chairs” type environment. My God, did that ability come in handy in 2010. Only projected to be a back up, Scott played in all sixteen game and started nine.

Cutting to the Chase on Jonathan Scott: Yes Scott did appear to be the weak link on the Steelers line in any number of games, but Max Stark’s injury forced him into the starting line up at left tackle, the most difficult position. Scott may not have always excelled, but no one will question his tenacity.

  • The Steelers made it to Super Bowl XLV because guys like Jonathan Scott stepped up and refused to pay the naysayers any mind. The Steelers should bring him back.

Matt Spaeth – Joined the Steelers as a 3rd round draft pick in 2007. Spaeth has started a fair number of games in the two TE set, and early in his career the Steelers threw to him infrequently, but Speath did catch it fairly well. Speath got more action in 2010 due to Heath Millers injury and his performance was so-so.

Cutting to the Chase on Matt Spaeth: Spaeth has not lived up to his potential as a 3rd round draft pick, and David Johnson made some strides this year.

  • Matt Spaeth will likely test the market but almost as likely return to the Steelers.

Daniel Sepulevda – Joined the Steelers as a fourth round draft pick in 2007, but has only completed two full seasons as the team’s punter.

Cutting to the Chase on Daniel Sepulevda – Like his counter part Matt Speath, Sepulevda has failed to live up to his potential, and now has 3 ligament tears in two knees.

  • The Steelers could do worse than Dan Sepulevda but they can and have made two Super Bowls without him. And Justin Kapios looked pretty good….

Chris Hoke – Joined the team as an undrafted free agent in 2001, and has played in 108 games and started 16, including 10 in 2004 the year the Steelers went 15-1.

Cutting to the Chase on Chris Hoke: Is there a more under recognized player on the Steelers defense? Chris Hoke’s value to the team defies statistics. When Casey Hampton must come out, the Steelers do not miss a beat with Chris Hoke.

  • The Steelers must do what they have to in order to keep Chris Hoke. Given his lack of notoriety, Hoke may draw little interest, but the Steelers must not be complacent.

So concludes part I of Steel Curtain Rising’s annual Steelers Free Agent Focus. Stay tuned for part II, coming soon to a lock out near you.

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Steelers Resign Nick Eason

The Steelers announced that they had come to terms with back up defensive end Nick Eason. No terms of the deal were announced other than the two sides had agreed to a one year deal.

Eason joined the Steelers in 2007 after playing his first three years in Cleveland, and at age 30 a veritable spring chicken on a “mature” defensive line. With 2009 first round pick Ziggy Hood, and 2009 seventh round pick Sunny Harris waiting in the wings, many have wondered if Eason would be brought back.

Given that no signing bonus information was reported, one must assume that Eason’s signing bonus was minimal, or else his agent would have made sure the press knew the terms of the deal. Little or no signing bonus makes Eason more less expendable, so this move should have no impact on the team’s plans for the upcoming draft.

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Aaron Smith Injures Shoulder, Out, Possibly for the Year

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported this afternoon the Steelers starting defensive end Aaron Smith would be out with a potentially “serious” shoulder injury. Later in the day ESPN.com’s John Clatyon reported that Smith has a partially torn rotator cuff, and was debating surgery. On the Post Gazette Plus Site Ed Bouchette confirmed that Smith’s injury was indeed serious and potentially season ending.

The ESPN article reports that surgery would end Smith’s season. Smith could decide to try to play through the injury, but in doing so he would open himself to a potentially career ending injury.

Implications for the Steelers

When the Steelers lost Aaron Smith late in the 2007 season, their defensive performance plummeted like a rock. Without Smith they were completely unable to stop the run or dominate the line of scrimmage.

Smith’s top two back ups, Travis Kirschke and Nick Eason are both in their 30’s and capable stand ins, but neither can off set the drop off. That is not surprising, as Smith is one of the best, if not the best 3-4 defensive ends in the NFL.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin threw cold water on hopes that first round draft pick Evander “Ziggy” Hood could replace Smith. When asked about Hood, Tomlin praised the rookie’s talent, but then went on to say, “But by no means is Ziggy Hood a potential replacement for Aaron Smith at this point.”

Given that neither Krischke nor Eason’s limitations, Steelers fans must hope that Hood can grow up fast. For the moment, Tomlin has confirmed that the Steelers attempt to bring Hood along by filling Smith’s slot by committee.

They have no other choice, with no other defensive ends on their roster, and with 2007 4th round pick Ryan McBean, who was cut in training camp last year, is now starting for Denver.

Implications for Aaron Smith

Aaron Smith is 33 years old and this is his second major injury in two years. While surgery and rehab does offer realistic hope of some sort of return for Smith, one has to wonder if Smith “getting up there” in terms of his “football age.”

What Happens Next?

If Smith does have a torn rotator cuff, he’s likely lost for the year. Even if he did attempt to play, one wonders how effective he would be.

  • Curtain’s Call: Smith has the surgery, the Steelers put him on IR, and attempt to resign Sunny Harris, whom they cut before opening day, from Carolina’s practice squad.
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Defense Special in 2008 Steelers 23-6 Victory Over Redskins

We have a philosophy of give us a blade of grass to defend, and we will defend it” — Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin

When the Pittsburgh Steelers last traveled to Washington, it was a Presidential election year (1988,) their ownership was in transition (Art Rooney Sr. had just passed away), Sonny Jergenson was still doing play-by-play in Washington, they squared off against a Redskins team led by an African-American quarterback and their normally automatic place kicker suffered a missed extra point.

  • The similarities, however, end there.

Going into the game, both the Steelers and Redskins had compiled 5-2 records against inferior opponents. Pittsburgh had struggled mightily against NFC East teams, while the Redskins,  had been looking at this game for weeks as their “statement game.”

Which Team Is Making a Statement on Monday Night Football?

The Steelers defense had a statement of its own to make.

Mike Tomlin began by going for the surprise on-sides kick to open the game. The Steelers completely botched the execution spotting the Redskins excellent field position to start the game (you really didn’t think Bob Ligashesky’s special teams were capable of pulling this off, did you?)

  • It didn’t matter. You can take such risks when you field the kind of defense that Mike Tomlin and Dick LeBeau have put together.

Both on that and the ensuring series where Pittsburgh’s offense turned the ball over deep in Redskin territory, the Steelers defense mitigated, what for most teams would have been a 14 point gift to the opposition, to a mere 6 point deficit.

  • In the first quarter Washington showed a lot of poise.

Its players were pumped and looked ready for PrimeTime. Greg Blanche’s defense was swarming, and while the Redskins offense wasn’t moving the chains very well, their offensive line was keeping Jason Campbell clean, Clinton Portis ripped off a 22 yard run, the longest against the Steelers to date, and the fans at FedEx field were making themselves heard.

Perhaps its only fitting then that the first play of the second quarter saw the Redskins begin with an attempt to convert a 3rd and 6 and ended when James Farrior and Sliverback decided to meet up 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage with Campbell in between….

  • And that set the tone for the rest of the game.

The Redskins offense is not a dominate unit yet, but it is clearly on the rise. Jason Campbell looks like he will justify Joe Gibbs decision to draft him. Jim Zorn is either providing evidence that Daniel Snyder really is turning over a new leaf or he’s the living embodiment of the infallibility of the law of averages. Either way, he looks to be one NFL’s bright young minds. Clinton Portis has simply been running roughshod over everything and everybody that has tried to slow him down, let alone stand in his way.

  • But none of that mattered.

Three statistics tell the story:

  • The Steelers picked off Jason Campbell for the first time in 271 passes
  • James Farrior, LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons, Nick Eason, Aaron Smith and James Harrison sacked Jason Campbell 7 times
  • If you take away his one 22 yard burst, the Steeler held Clinton Portis to 2.4 yards a carry

Jim Zorn’s game plan itself betrays the fact the he himself must have been trying to make a statement. But for all of his boldness and budding wisdom, he was no match for Dick LeBeau’s tried and tested genius. Washington Post reporter Jason LaCafora couldn’t have put it any better:

After weeks of more conventional play-calling, riding the running game and the occasional deep pass to a 6-2 record, Zorn gambled more often with protection in his Monday Night Football debut as head coach, and quarterback Jason Campbell often paid the price….

The interplay between Zorn and LeBeau – an up-and-coming play caller against a defensive mastermind – was the preeminent backdrop for the game, and by early in the second half merely keeping Campbell upright proved difficult as the Steelers delivered at least one crushing hit on drive after drive.

If Zorn’s plan was to make a statement, credit him for sticking to his guns.

After a blocked punt rejuvenated the Steelers offense (not to mention giving them a short field) the Steelers went up 10-6, and the Redskins took over at their 32 after the ensuing kick off with :27 seconds remaining. Not content to take a knee, Zorn called a pass play, and LaMarr Woodley rewarded his courage by sacking Campbell for a five yard loss.

  • You can walk the walk, but you’d better be ready to talk the talk.

Indeed, the Washington Post’s lead articles were titled “Reality Hits Hard,” “In Zorn-LeBeau Chess Match, Campbell Pays the Price,” and “All Burgundy, Like a Bruise.”

Steelers Defense Shines

On a night where the Steelers offense AGAIN struggled to find its way, Pittsburgh’s defense responded in kind, by stepping it up again. The Steelers offensive difficulties have been discussed in Steel Curtain Rising before, and another installment is due soon.

But Monday night was the defense’s night.

  • The Steelers defense in 2007 started the season strong, only to fade as the season progressed.

This year the Steelers defense started off playing well, but it appears to be getting better with each game. Third downs are ending in sacks. The secondary is neutralizing marquee receivers. They are imposing their will on elite running backs and shutting down vaunted running games. Steeler linebackers are terrorizing opposing quarterbacks.

With eight games to go, the “p” word is not yet permissible in Steelers Nation, let alone the initials “L. T.” Nonetheless, if the Steelers are to have a shot at making a serious run in January, they will have to protect their quarterback better, and the offense must find consistency.

  • But offense only wins games. Defense wins championships.

If the offense’s ability to win games for the Steelers remains a concern, the 23-6 smashing of the Redskins in their own backyard reveals that Steelers defense has a chance to become something truly special.

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Watch Tower: Tribune Review Was Right on Steelers and Anthony McFarland

It turns out that the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review got it right. Anthony “Bud” McFarland is not a Pittsburgh Steeler. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette mistakenly reported on Wednesday the 26th that McFarland had reached an agreement with the Steelers. The Tribune-Review article of the same day had explicitly said that no deal had been reached.

  • Credit the Tribune-Review’s Scott Brown for bringing Steelers Nation the hard facts.

By Thursday the 27th, the Post-Gazette had taken the previous day’s article off their main page, and the version that was available on the site’s search engine had been edited. The headline referred to an agreement, the text however did not. (As of today, both the text and the headline have been edited – no correction was announced however.)

How Nick Eason’s signing impacts the Steelers interest in McFarland is still ambiguous. The Post Gazette reported today that the re-signing of Eason ends the Steelers’ interest in McFarland. The Tribune-Review states that it is unclear how reinking Eason affects potential interest in McFarland.

Given that both papers clearly indicated that no negotiations have taken place, it is unlikely that the Steelers will make an offer to McFarland. He might have been an interesting pick up, but given his injury history and the team’s limited salary cap space, this move is understandable.

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Watch Tower: Steelers Sign Warren, Eason… and McFarland?

The Steelers continue to make moves in free agency, although a cloud of mist appears to shroud the exact nature of some of team’s latest personnel decisions.

In resigning Greg Warren, the Steelers shore up the small, but highly significant position of long-snapper. You don’t hear Warren’s name much, and that’s a good thing.

Nick Eason’s resigning is more interesting, if for no other reason that the confusion surrounding Anthony “Booger” McFarland. On Wednesday March 26th, the Post-Gazette reported that the Steelers had signed defensive tackle Anthony McFarland, whom the Colts had recently released. However, on the same day the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that McFarland had been “ecstatic when he got back,” from his meeting with the Steelers, but Scotty Brown made clear that no agreement had been reached.

  • Wednesday’s article disappeared from the Post-Gazette’s Steelers section on Thursday, although the paper reported Nick Eason’s re-signing.

Interestingly enough, Wednesday’s article was available via the Post-Gazette’s search engine. The story’s headline proclaims: “Steelers sign Warren; McFarland agrees to deal.” As currently posted, however, the text in the article does not refer to any agreement between the two parties. If memory serves, the original text did (I remember reading that in wondering why dollar terms had been disclosed.)

What’s going on here? Is McFarland a Steeler or not? It would appear that he is not, in light of the Tribune-Review article and the mysterious disappearance/editing of the Post-Gazette article.

The 24 hour news cycle is unrelenting, and concrete facts can be incredibly elusive in the age of cyber-journalism. If the Post-Gazette made a mistake, so be it. But if Wednesday’s article was in err, then why not issue a clarification?

If McFarland is not a Steeler, then that raises the more pertinent question for Steelers fans is did that fact impact the decision to resign Eaton? At this point, the Steelers probably could have signed Eaton at their leisure. McFarland most certainly would have been an upgrade over Eaton, and so there’s a strong possibility that they would not have resigned Eaton if McFarland was still in their plans.

The defensive line is a need area for the Steelers, and it would be interesting to know exactly what has gone on these last few days.


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