Pittsburgh Steelers: Defensive Backs Abundant In Free Agency Market

Everyone who follows the Pittsburgh Steelers knows that the weak link in their storied defense is the secondary unit, despite it being led by the best safety in football and reigning Defensive Player Of The Year, Troy Polamlau.

Ryan Clark, while aging and found out of position a good deal, is one of the few safeties in the NFL that can handle playing opposite of the wild card, his grasp of the complicated Dick LeBeau 3-4 scheme is unparalleled, and he’s a great locker room presence.

Ike Taylor is still a top corner in the league, and would garner more recognition if he didn’t have hands of stone. He’s currently a free agent, but there’s little doubt in anyone’s mind that the Steelers won’t negotiate a contract with him, especially due to the depth at cornerback for the team.

Opposite of Taylor there is the tandem of Bryant McFadden and William Gay. McFadden would be best suited in a safety role, where he’d be able to see the ball at all times, as he also found himself getting beat time and time again. The safety transition could be made smoothly, due to his intelligence and natural tackling ability. Gay, may be the best blitzing corner in the NFL, he always finds a way to the quarterback, but found himself getting abused by some pretty average slot receivers this year, playing in the nickel. That problem was only compounded when he was asked to sub for McFadden due to injuries.

It’s imperative that the Steelers make defensive back a priority in the off-season, via free agency and the draft.There’s quite a few big names on the market, and keep an eye out for the Steel Hurtin’ Draft Profiles of prospective Steelers’ picks as well. Possibly a Mock Draft.

1. Nnamdi Asomugha, Oakland Raiders

Asomugha is regarded as the second best corner in the NFL, behind New York’s Darrelle Revis, and there’s definitely a case to be made for him as the number one guy. His statistics are in the gutter, because, well, teams just don’t throw to his side of the field. His contract with the Oakland Raiders was voided because of his statistics, showing what little value one should place on numbers in regards to performance.

He wants to play for a Super Bowl contender, which automatically puts some teams out of the race, but it also makes the price tag steeper, because Super Bowl contenders know that they only need a piece or two to get there and win it. The reigning champion Green Bay Packers are the ‘sexy’ signing, because he has ties to Charles Woodson, but that secondary is already very well paid, the New York Jets would be interested, but it would cost them in terms of holes in other portions of their roster, at receiver most notably.

This is, of course a dream signing, because he’s going to be VERY well paid, and the Steelers historically don’t make a big splash in the free agency market. Someone’s going to pay him some big money to isolate number one receivers, unfortunately, it won’t be the Steelers. They aren’t interested in getting in a bidding war, when they’ve performed very well with sub-par corners for much of the last 10 years.

2. Champ Bailey, Denver Broncos

The Broncos want to get younger, and while Bailey is still a top five corner in the NFL, and still fast as a lightning bolt, he’s getting older and may be contemplating a change to safety, which as evidenced by Pittsburgh’s own Rod Woodson, can extend the career of a shutdown cornerback by years.

He’s still very much interested in being a Denver Bronco, and should they express the same interest, you can cross his name off this list. He would be an automatic upgrade at corner, opposite of Ike Taylor, if only a rent-to-own deal, perhaps moving him to free safety once he grasps the defense and once a replacement at corner is found in the 2012 off-season.

3. Johnathan Joseph, Cincinnati Bengals

Joseph has stated that if the Bengals place the franchise tag on him, that he’ll sign it on the first day, but is hoping that they reach a long term deal before that point. But, on the off-chance that the Bengals don’t see that he’s important to their defense, he would make a great 1-2 punch in the Bengals guts.

Along with Leon Hall, he helped lead a Bengals secondary that performed very well in 2010, and regressed in 2011, but the burden of that blame can be placed on the Bengals’ pass rush department, because that’s where coverage starts and stops. They couldn’t get pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and the secondary was left hanging out to dry. He’s a phenomenal athlete, and very,  very aggressive, he’s be a great fit in the Pittsburgh defensive scheme.

4. Antonio Cromartie, New York Jets

Cromartie is a great corner in man to man, but sub-par in zone coverage, and also comes with some off-field issues, which the Steelers have addressed with an iron fist (steel curtain?) this past off-season (well, except in the case of Ben Roethlisberger…but that’s another story…) Due to the need at corner though, they may be willing to take a chance on ‘Cro’ as long as they can keep him from threatening Seattle Seahawk’s quarterbacks, and at the very least, he could help the population in Pittsburgh grow by leaps and bounds.

5. Brent Grimes, Atlanta Falcons

Again, the Falcons would be completely brain dead to allow Grimes to walk, after not being drafted, he has turned into one of the better corners in the NFL, and helped rejuvenate a Falcons pass defense that has struggled in past years. He has a nose for the ball, and was among the league leaders in passes defended at the end of the season.

6. Carlos Rogers, Washington Redskins

As much as it would make me cringe to have two starting corners that couldn’t catch the plague in Medieval England, Rogers is a solid corner and a leader in the Redskins secondary, he, like Taylor doesn’t get the recognition that he probably deserves due to their inability to make plays on the ball and come down with them.

There are definitely worse starting corners out there, and Pittsburgh got the ‘pleasure’ of seeing two of them this past season.



~ by Steel Hurtin on February 12, 2011.

6 Responses to “Pittsburgh Steelers: Defensive Backs Abundant In Free Agency Market”

  1. “…except in the case of Ben Roethlisberger…” Why keep bringing this up? There was nothing to deal with when Goodell made Ben the poster boy for his conduct policy in spite of the fact that Ben was never charged with a crime. At worse, and this is only opinion, he was guilty of bad judgment. We’re sick of hearing about it! Otherwise, love your blog.

    • Only reason I bring it up is to cover myself in the event of someone saying ‘they didn’t come down hard on Roethlisberger’ lol. Which, the Steelers really didn’t. They traded Holmes for a sixth rounder because of a Tweet saying he was going to ‘wake and bake’. It’s inconsistent at best, but I digress on that. I’m on point with you, that without an actual conviction, the only thing he can possibly be guilty of is bad judgment. I absolutely love him as a quarterback, not really a fan of Roethlisberger as a person, but that’s the reason that very few professional athlete’s should be looked upon as role models, because they’re just regular people like you and me.

      Thanks for reading though, glad you like it, lol, I try.

  2. […] <More> […]

  3. The Steelers can calm down a little bit and take about 20 years or maybe a little more, like 150, away from the Super Bowl or the top of the AFC echelons in general. A break would be nice, y’know. Other franchises that don’t have the luxury of having a consistent, caring, well-run ownership and organization should receive a shot too!

    Roethlisberger is, what Chris Jericho — circa 2002 — would call, an ‘assclown’. Unfortunately for Steelers detesters like yours truly, he’s a 6’5″ mammoth that’s built like a massive truck. He makes unbelievable plays and gets things done. It truly irritates me. Just stating the obvious, I know.

    Oh, and I know this post was about defensive backs and all, but I just wanted to address how ridiculous fans are with their overreacting tendencies:

    Remember how everybody and their baby brother’s wife’s second cousin’s sister’s aunt Jane’s ape-looking husband was calling Michael Vick the MVP after he tore apart the ‘vaunted’ (LOL!!!) Washington Redskins’ D? Well, those same people were aggressively tugging at their sexual organs while talking about Rodgers and putting him over Big Ben in the whole “top five QB” lists. It’s amazing how a week before the Super Bowl Roethlisberger is praised and acclaimed, and afterward he is buried. Such BS! And I don’t even like the guy!!! I just like some good ‘ol righteousness!

    • Hey! They took a break last year, Troy. They take 20 years worth of breaks, just not in a row. I think the stats come out to them winning a title every 6.something years lol.

      And you get major props for using a Jericho quote, because he’s one of the all time greats on the microphone, and the perfect heel.

      Steelers defense has nothing on that Redskins D. Don’t believe me? Andre Gurode won’t even suit up against them, because he still has a headache from Albert Haynesworth, lol.

      Roethlisberger doesn’t get the credit he deserves most of the time, but when he has a hot game, the media and fans are dangling from his jock strap like no other lol. Kind of like they’ve done with Favre the past few years when he was hot – he was a God among men, when he was cold he was trash and should retire, lol.

      Rodgers is VERY, VERY good, elite even. He and Ben have a lot in common, size, mobility, power, bad offensive lines, etc. But one thing Roethlisberger has over Rodgers is the thing that the ‘experts’ picked Rodgers over Ben in – Who do you trust more with the game on the line in the last two minutes? – you probably haven’t seen the stats, because you didn’t really care (lol) but it’s like Roethlisberger 25, Rodgers 5 or something disproportionate like that, lol.

      Dude needs some love.

  4. Huge Jericho fan here. Just finished reading his latest book “Undisputed” a couple of days ago and it was just as good if not better than “A Lion’s Tale”! I highly recommend it!

    Admittedly, I was one of the guys during the 2005 season saying that Favre should GTFO and retire. Every time he threw an interception I shuddered in aversion. I ranted and ranted. Then two years later he nearly took the Pack to Super Bowl XLII…. but he threw a game losing interception…something he would mimic two seasons later while wearing purple!

    Also admittedly, I was a big Marc Bulger advocate, especially after the 2006 campaign! Too bad he started to become a pansy every time he took a hit and relegated himself into a timid little rape victim every time he stood in the pocket. It also didn’t help that Alex Barron was incurring a false start penalty (led the league for like two or three years in a row!) every play while Richie Incognito was getting some kind of unsportsmanlike conduct BS called on him every other down. But I digress!

    Ben Roethlisberger shuns the idea of being a rape victim and pities a fool such as Marc Bulger. He enjoys being the rapist and takes hits like a champ! I’m always astounded by how he gets right the hell back up every time he’s drilled to the ground.

    In all seriousness, Roethlisberger is definitely a game changer and he’s proven it. Not sure why people took Rodgers over Big Ben in the whole “two minute drill” convo. Makes no sense. Roethlisberger is a proven clutch performer. I’m not sure if Rodgers has proven to be “clutch” just yet.

    Of course, If I said that on a random sports forum, I’m sure somebody would be all, “HERP DERP! Rodgers proved that at the Super Bowl!!” Jeez. Roethlisberger proved that in Super Bowl XLIII, February 2009, while Aaron Rodgers was nothing more than a mole on Brett Favre’s left nut!

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