´ Steel Curtain Rising: Steelers Sign LeGarrette Blount, Bloster Depth at Running Back... and Kick Returner?

Screwed by Bloggers Polling, Again

Folks, it looks like Blogger's polling has decided to stop working. We had a good poll on the Steelers draft which suddenly got dropped to zero.

Guess you get what you pay for on these free platforms. Thanks to all those who voted.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Steelers Sign LeGarrette Blount, Bloster Depth at Running Back... and Kick Returner?

The Pittsburgh Steelers salary cap space might be sparse, but Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert continue to ensure that the depth chart cupboard isn’t bare, as the team signed free agent running back LeGarrette Blount.

According to press reports, Blount signed a 2 year 3.85 million dollar contract, which included a $950,000 signing bonus. While Blount’s primary role will be to back up Le'Veon Bell, his role could expand as suggested by Steelers Digest editor Bob Labrolia:
During his four year NFL career, Blount has only returned kicks for New England, where he played last year.  But as Labrolia suggests, his numbers do prompt an eye brow raise:

  • Blount out performed the Steelers. 
Yes, 17 returns is a low number to draw a comparison upon, but it is just shy of 40% of the Steelers total. IF you take out Blount’s long run of 83 yards and remove the Steelers low returns by Cameron Heyward and Michael Palmer, the Steelers average improves to 23 yards per return, but Blount still bests them at 25.7 yards per carry.

No Word on Salary Cap Moves

The Steelers entered the day with just over 1 million dollars remaining under the NFL’s Salary Cap. It was assumed that they would need to make another move, either signing transition player Jason Worilds to a long term deal or restructuring the contract of Lawrence Timmons to gain extra space.
  • Thus far there is no word of any such salary cap move by the Steelers.
Given the terms of Bount’s contract, it is possible that they did not make one. His contract averages out at 1.95 million per year, and the Steelers could have back loaded it to stay under the cap.

Steelers Still Need More Depth at Running Back

LeGarrette Blount entered the NFL in 2010 as an undrafted free agent rookie in Tampa, and rushed for over 1000 yards as a rookie in seven starts. He doubled that start count in 2011, but rushed for only 781 yards, but still posted a decent average of 4.2 yards a carry. Blount rode the bench in 2011, only carrying 41 times for 151 yards. From there he went to New England, where he started 7 games and rushed for 772 yards.
  • In a word, he gives the Steelers a reliable veteran presence in the back field which they do not have.
Still, the Steelers need to add depth. Expect them to pick a running back in the 2014 NFL Draft, but Blount’s presence means that they need not reach to fill the position. Resigning Felix Jones and/or LaRod Stephens-Howling is also a possibility.

Still Reason for Redman’s Return

That of course begs the question of Isaac Redman. The question no one else is asking in Steelers Nation, but one suggested here, namely that the Steelers should give Redman a second chance.
  • That was true before they signed Blount, and remains true.
In fact, any wise persons would take Blount over Redman. But decision to cut LaMarr Woodley will give the Steelers 8 million dollars in salary cap money to spend after June 1st. Approximately 5 million of that will go to the Steelers 2014 Draft Class.

That will leave plenty of money to sign Redman to a veteran minimum contract with no signing bonus, which will be a no risk proposition for the Steelers.
  • This probably won’t happen, but if it does, you read it here first.
But today is Blount’s day. Welcome to Steelers Nation LeGarrette Blount.

Thanks for visiting. Click here for the rest of Steel Curtain Rising or here to see our Steelers 2014 Free Agent Focus.

2 comments:

stegmasterj said...

The Steelers wasted too much time on Redman and finally had to cut their losses. He must be a good person, because they normally wouldn't keep a noncontributor that long.

KT said...

Stegmasterj,

Thanks for commenting.

We must agree to disagree. Redman entered the league as an undrafted rookie free agent. There is no more low-risk proposition for a team than that.

Take a look at the numbers in the blog post referenced. In 2012 Redman's rushing and receiving production was greater than the 2013 production for Felix Jones and Jonathan Dwyer. Combined.

Numbers don't lie.

They say that the Steelers are better off with Blount than giving Redman a second chance. But no reason for it to be an either/or proposition. Sign him to a no bonus vet minimum contract.

If he's a knucklehead in training camp, you cut him. Other than that you give yourself a proven backup.