´ Steel Curtain Rising: Steelers Signing of Keiwan Ratliff Puzzling

What position(s) should be the Steelers highest priorities in the draft?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Steelers Signing of Keiwan Ratliff Puzzling

The Steelers confirmed that they have signed former Indianapolis Colts corner back Kiewan Ratliff to a one year deal.

The Cincinnati Bengals drafted him in the second round in 2004, but Ratliff has never been more than a back up and occasional starter since then. He has also played as a back up in Tampa Bay in 2007 and in Indianapolis last year.

According to Pro Football Reference Ratliff has 5 interceptions to his credit, two of which he made last year.

He gives the team some veteran depth at corner, and will most likely push Antonio Bryant for a roster spot, although the Post-Gazette is reporting that he might challenge William Gay for a starting spot. If he does make a serious push to start, then he is either a late bloomer, al la James Harrison, or William Gay will have greatly disappointed in Latrobe this summer.

Given the Steelers acute lack of salary cap space, one has to wonder why the team made this move.

Worried about Gay, Lewis… Townsend to Move to Safety...?

Yes, it does lessen the pressure to pick a DB in the draft, but this draft is reputed to be strong with mid-round, high value defensive backs. Perhaps the move signals a lack of confidence in William Gay and/or Roy Lewis, or perhaps Steelers coaches are seeing signs that Desha Townsend is finally losing a step.

This move might also signal that coaches are thinking of transitioning Townsend to safety. There was some talk of this in during the 2008 off season, when it was unclear that Ryan Clark would make a full recovery, but nothing ever surfaced.

Regardless, this is a surprising move whose motive is difficult to understand.

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