The Pittsburgh Steelers have been quietly busy during free agency, as they quite frequently are, preferring to concern themselves with retaining their own marginal free agents rather than pursuing the big names that hit the open market. The Steelers have already come to terms on a number of signings; they are just slow at getting the announcements out there.
The first of those signings actually came before the opening of the free agency period. On Monday, the Steelers came to terms with offensive lineman Ramon Foster on a three-year deal believed to be worth around $6 million. A former undrafted free agent, Foster has consistently found his way into the starting lineup due to injuries, which he himself has been able to avoid.
Despite never entering a regular season as a starter, Foster has managed to start in 42 games over his first four NFL seasons, including a full 16 in 2012. He was expected to be a reserve in 2012 after the Steelers drafted guard David DeCastro in the first round.
However, DeCastro suffered a significant knee injury that derailed his rookie season, and Foster started the first 13 games of the season at his right guard position. Later, left guard Willie Colon landed on injured reserve, and when DeCastro became healthy enough to play, Foster finished the last three games of the season at left guard.
It was no doubt his position flexibility in part that so attracted Foster to the Steelers. He has significant starting experience at both guard positions, and he was a left tackle in college and has played some right tackle in the NFL. Because of his durability, the team is electing to go with him over the more senior Colon.
That was not all, however, as the Steelers signed three more of their own veterans yesterday. The list included tight end/fullback David Johnson, who missed all of 2012 with a torn ACL, and wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who joined the team late in 2012. He was, of course, a former first round pick of the team in 2000, who left in 2005 via free agency.
Most significantly, however, the team also brought back inside linebacker Larry Foote. The Steelers are not optimistic that their 2012 third round pick, Sean Spence, will be able to contribute in 2013 after suffering nerve damage when he injured his knee in the 2012 preseason, so retaining Foote was important for the team.
In addition, the team announced today that they have actually signed an outside free agent, although he is a native of the Pittsburgh area. The Steelers signed veteran backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski to a three-year contract, likely to become the new Charlie Batch.
Like this article? Then please subscribe to this author’s articles about the NFL by clicking the subscribe button next to the author’s name or here to receive an e-mail notification whenever a new article is posted.