Every year during free agency there seems to be a mass panic because the Steelers haven’t made a big splash, yet, just about every year since 2003, the Steelers have pretty much been Super Bowl contentders, why? Because the Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin don’t panic. They are smart, they use free agency to fill holes and for depth, not to build a roster. Occasionally they have found starters, such as James Farrior, but that is the exception, not their rule. They also managed to stay in contention while in the middle of salary cap hell, and there is simply no reason to change their philosophy now that they have a nice cushion to play with.
As for doing nothing in free agency to this point, well, they retained the BEST running back in the NFL, LeVeon Bell, for next year and are looking to make it a long term proposition. They signed the BEST wide receiver in the world, Antonio Brown, to a long term deal. They are also giving a young Vince Williams a chance to bring his violent ways to the defense, and are saving cap space in the process, by letting Lawrence Timmons walk. Two years ago quite a few members of the fanbase were ready to run Timmons out of town, over a down year, because he was getting up in age.
Let’s put this in perspective. The Patriots have been the best team in the NFL since 2001, quite likely through nefarious means. The Steelers have been the BEST team in the NFL, overall, since 1970 with more titles and wins than anyone. Why? because of doing things the Steeler way, which was created by Chuck Noll. 47 years of brilliance is no accident. They don’t operate for the sake of instant gratification, they do things with longevity in mind, because they understand what the big picture is.
The Cleveland Browns have spent as much as anyone in free agency and usually finish around 4-12 just about every year. The Steelers spend what they need to in order to plug holes, and how does that usually work out? They have no losing seasons since 2003, two Lombardi Trophies in three trips since 2005 with no cheating. They just do it the Steeler way. Winning in free agency isn’t determined by how much money is spent, no, it’s about how the money is allocated, and the Steelers have always spent it wisely this time of year.
The very reason the Steelers remain so successful has also been the biggest source of pride in the fanbase for years, they build through the draft and supplement the roster through free agency. Who hasn’t bragged on the fact that the 1979 Steelers are the last team to win a Lombardi Trophy with a completely homegrown roster? Chances are, that will never happen again. Since Super Bowl XIV, the team that has won a championship with the most homegrown players, has been the 2005 and the 2008 Steelers, who won Super Bowl’s XL, and XLIII.
The Steelers are who they are, and they are not going to let anyone or anything influence the way they do business, except for the results. Since no franchise has had better results over the last 47 years, why change? Why fix what isn’t broken? That includes how the Steelers use free agency, as a tool, to acquire outside talent to fill holes, and to help set up their draft strategy. The big payday’s, the ones everybody wants to see given out, are meant to lock up the Steelers own free agents. To those who continue to criticize the Steelers for doing nothing in free agency, it’s hard to classify the retention of LeVeon Bell and Antonio Brown as doing nothing.