´ Steel Curtain Rising: Steelers Resign Madison – Last Free Agent Signing?

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Steelers Resign Madison – Last Free Agent Signing?

Last week the Steelers signed another free agent when Anthony Madison accepted the team’s one year-tender. This was their ninth free agent signing, and as with the previous eight, Madison was already a Pittsburgh Steeler.

Madison is a reserve cornerback who plays mainly on special teams. He joined the team as an unrestricted rookie free agent in 2006, made the practice squad that year, and has been with the team since, with the exception of a brief stint with Tampa Bay in 2007.

Madison has steadily improved, and peeking with 25 special teams tackles last year.

Are the Steelers Done With Free Agency?

With Madison taken care of, and Marvel Smith off to San Francisco, the Steelers have no remaining restrict or unrestricted free agents to resign.

So does this mean they’re done with free agency?

There are conflicting reports.

Art Rooney II spoke to the Post Gazette’s Ed Bouchette last week. Ronney II talked up the team’s “take care of your own” approach, but he also left the door open to signing someone from another team, telling Bouchette:

“We don't look at that [signing other team’s free agents] as the barometer of whether we're having a good off season or not," but he went on to say “ ‘I would imagine we will’ eventually sign at least one.”

A few days later Kevin Colbert spoke with Bouchette, and the tone was different. While Colbert did not explicitly rule out plucking someone else from the free agent pool, that was the distinct impression that Bouchette conveyed to his readers:

And it appears they might not sign any more. They have no scheduled visits by free agents and they see nothing on the horizon.
Don’t Look for Terry Holt or Marvin Harrison

Kevin Colbert acknowledged that the Steelers are thin at with receiver with the departure of Nate Washington. To bolster their receiving corps, they attempted but failed to resign Joey Galloway.

But Kevin Colbert has made it clear that the Steelers are banking on improving from within, as his comments to Bouchette indicate:

We lost our third guy and some of the young guys have to step up. We'll keep watching and seeing [in free agency], but at this point we're not optimistic that there will be anybody else that we're interested in. The people we have have to step up.
So don’t expect to see either Marvin Harrison or Terry Holt darken the doorways of the Steelers South Side complex.

Extending Deals of Harrison and Max Starks Top Priorities

Steel Curtain Rising tends to agree with the analysis from Art II. The Steelers are going to need to fill holes at some point, and they’ll bring someone in, even if he is just a special teams player. Most likely, this move will come after the draft.

But significant signings like that of Justin Hartwig or Mewelde Moore of a year ago are unlikely, and not simply because there are not too many of those players available.

The Steelers to priorities remain to extend the deals of Max Starks and James Harrison. Both players are under contract for next year, but have no deal in place beyond that. And both deals are complicated by complexities of the NFL’s salary cap.

You can follow all of the Steelers off season moves in our Steelers 2009 Free Agent Focus section, or simply check out the rest of Steel Curtain Rising.

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