Most of us would like to forget the Steelers 2018 free agency process. We all know going in that Pittsburgh is never going to be big spenders. Last season was particularly bad however. Kevin Colbert shelled out decent money to below average players, in an attempt to plug the major holes on defense. Morgan Burnett got five million dollars last year for eleven very uneventful games. Jon Bostic got less, but produced at a rate of a minimum contract player. This was not some of Kevin Colbert’s finest work in the free agent market.
2019 seems to have brought a different approach for the Steelers in free agency. They have now signed two players in their mid-twenties with reasonable upside. Both Steven Nelson and Donte Moncrief are leaving less than desirable situations. Nelson was a part of one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Not only that, Chiefs opponents were often trying to come from behind leading to lots more passing attempts than usual. It would be hard for any corner back to stand out under those conditions. Still, Nelson managed an above average grade in the PFF rankings. Being only twenty six, and coming off a career year make Nelson an intriguing add by the Steelers.
Donte Moncrief also had his share of things holding him back in 2018. Let’s start with the dumpster fire that was the Jacksonville Jaguars offense. Any time you can manage almost 700 yards with Blake Bortles as your quarterback, I’m interested. In fact, his last few quarterbacks include Bortles, Cody Kessler, and Jacoby Brissett. Hard to judge any receiver with that murderers row of bad quarterbacks. Moncrief is the quintessential size/speed type of receiver the NFL covets. He stands at 6’2″, and ran 4.4 forty yard dash at the draft combine in 2014. With Andrew Luck in 2016 Moncrief put up a respectable 733 yards and 6 touchdowns. Not a bad gamble at all for what is presumably a inexpensive contract.
While many of us still wonder why Bostic and Burnett are still on the team one year later, this years class of free agents should be much different. Getting players who are about to enter their prime promises to be a much better philosophy. There is still work to be done, but this offseason is off to a much better start.