NFL Free Agency: Tracking the Pittsburgh Steelers

Posted on Mar 9 2017 - 5:55pm by Rachael McKriger

It’s another New Year for the NFL.

Free agency has begun in the NFL, and teams did not hesitate to make their moves. The Steelers haven’t been flashy with their moves, unlike other teams (i.e. the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills). However, the team made necessary moves to keep their roster in tact and ready for the 2017-18 season.

This article will continually be updated as the Steelers announce more signings and releases.

Tuesday, March 21

The Pittsburgh Steelers announced that they have signed defensive end Tyson Alualu. Alualu was signed to a two-year contract by the team.

Alualu is a former first round draft pick from the 2010 NFL Draft, where he was selected with the 10th overall pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He has made 110 appearances for the Jaguars, where he made 258 total tackles, 17.5 sacks and has forced two fumbles. In addition, he has three fumble recoveries and six pass deflections.

“As soon as you walk in the building you get a sense from talking to the people, it’s real genuine,” said Alualu. “Just a place that loves to win, so I would love to be a part of that. Just excited about this opportunity.

“I don’t think I could have left without signing a deal here, just wanting to be a part of something special,” he continued. “I am thankful to the Rooneys, Coach (Mike) Tomlin, Mr. (Kevin) Colbert. Taking a chance with me and giving me the opportunity to be a part of something special. I am thankful to be here. I had some tough years in Jacksonville. I just wanted a good change. I am excited to be here.”

“That has been a part of my strength, the versatility of being able to play inside and outside,” said Alualu. “Whatever the coaches want me to play, whatever position, I am just willing to play anything to help out, help this team. They are so close to always being in the Super Bowl. I just want to be a part of that.”

Also, the Steelers added more depth to their cornerback position, signing Coty Sensabaugh.

Sensabaugh was originally drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft, but has appeared for the Los Angeles Rams and the New York Giants.

In his career, Sensabaugh has made 72 appearances where he made 194 total tackles, one sack and has recorded two interceptions. Sensabaugh has also totaled 23 pass deflections and has scored one touchdown, which came during his time with the Titans in 2015.

“Just coming to something special,” said Sensabaugh. “I wanted to be part of a family here. The Steelers organization is top-notch. It’s a family atmosphere. I was talking to everybody that has been in the building. I have been a part of a couple of other organizations and this is one of the top-notch organizations. When you walk around the building and see how things are run, you see why the Steelers are in it year-in and year-out.”

“I have played here a couple of years and the fans are ridiculous,” Sensabaugh continued. “I am excited to play for them.”

“I came here to help the team get two games better,” Sensabaugh finished. “This team made it to the AFC Championship last year and hopefully we can get over the hump this year. That’s the goal.”

Monday, March 20

The Steelers have added to their backfield. The team announced that they had signed running back Knile Davis to a one-year contract.

A former Kansas City Chief, he was drafted by the Chiefs in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft, with the No. 96 overall pick. He primarily severed as a backup to Jamal Charles, but appeared in 55 games for the Chiefs and two games for the Green Bay Packers (a short stint before going back to the Chiefs in 2016).

In his career, he has appeared in 57 games where he has rushed for 805 yards on 250 carries. He has scored 11 rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown. In addition, he has totaled 1,960 yards on kickoff returns, while scoring two return touchdowns.

Wednesday, March 15

The Steelers found their replacement for Markus Wheaton. The team signed wide receiver Justin Hunter to a one-year contract.

The receiver was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the 2013 NFL Draft with the 34th pick in the second round. However, last season, he starred for the Buffalo Bills.

Throughout his entire four year career, Hunter has made 48 regular-season appearances where he grabbed 78 receptions for 1,305 yards. In addition, he scored 12 touchdowns and has never fumbled the ball.

The Steelers announced that Hunter had visited the team on Monday.

Friday, March 10 – Day 2

Markus Wheaton: The wide receiver has left the Steelers and joined the Chicago Bears. The Bears signed Wheaton, who was drafted by the Steelers in the 2013 NFL Draft, to a two-year contract.

Wheaton missed a majority of the 2016 season due to a shoulder injury. However, throughout his time in a Steelers uniform, Wheaton caught 107 passes in 47 appearances, totaling 1,508 yards. Wheaton scored eight touchdowns and never fumbled the ball.

Wheaton also appeared as a kickoff returner, attempt 27 returns where he totaled 636 yards. However, he never scored a touchdown on a return and never handled punt returns.

Lawrence Timmons: One of the bolsters of the Steelers linebacker group has gone down south. The Miami Dolphins signed Timmons to a two-year contract for $12 million.

Timmons had been with the Steelers since 2007, when the Steelers selected him the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft with the No. 15 overall pick. During his time in a Steelers uniform, Timmons appeared in 158 games where he recorded 981 combined tackles and 35.5 sacks.

Timmons also recorded 14 forced fumbles and picked up seven fumbles for recoveries. Timmons also helped become a quarterback’s nightmare with his 12 interceptions. In his entire career he has only scored one touchdown on a interception return.

Thursday, March 9 – Day 1

David Johnson: The Steelers re-signed veteran tight end David Johnson for two more years.

Johnson was originally picked up by the Steelers in 2009, but left the team in 2014 for the San Diego Chargers. He spent two seasons with the Chargers before coming back to Pittsburgh in 2016. In 2016 Johnson appeared in 16 games, starting five. He caught seven passes for 80, without scoring a touchdown. Johnson primarily served as a backup to Jesse James and Ladarius Green. However, it was his veteran presence to the young James that spoke volumes.

“I always considered myself a Steeler,” said Johnson. “I never wanted to leave. I hope I can finish my career here. It’s a special place. It’s always been like home to me, being with the coaches, the guys, the organization. It’s a great place to be. The only place I want to play.”

“We have a strong group,” said Johnson of the tight end group. “We all have our own different strengths. I think we displayed that well as a group last year and helped team win games.”

Landry Jones: The Steelers re-signed backup quarterback Landry Jones to a two-year contract.

According to the Steelers official website, general manager Kevin Colbert insisted that Jones stick around in the “quarterback mix.”

Jones was drafted by the Steelers in the 2013 NFL Draft with the 115th overall pick in the fourth round. Since then, he has appeared in 15 games for the Steelers, all occurring in the last two seasons. Jones has thrown for 1,071 yards on 141 attempts in a Steelers uniform, scoring seven touchdowns and throwing six interceptions.

“He has a very good understanding of our offense,” said head coach Mike Tomlin during the season. “He is a good communicator. It’s part of the functions of being a backup quarterback, the talking of schematics and the seeing of what is on the field and the communicating of such. He has grown in a lot of ways in that area in the last several years.”

“I’ve been in this offense four years now, so I feel comfortable with basically everything that we’re running out there,” said Jones near the end of the season. That’s just not my game, holding the ball and scrambling around and making plays like that,” said Jones. “My game is more making quick decisions and being decisive.”

Karlos Williams: The team announced that they waived Karlos Williams, right after announcing Jones’ signing.

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