Al Woods, former Steelers defensive lineman, tested the free agent market and was quickly snatched up by the Tennessee Titans. Woods signed a 2-year, $5 million deal with the Titans earlier this week. Woods was considered to be a priority re-sign in free agency due to his versatility and development over last season when he was used as a spot starter. He was being developed as both a 5-technique defensive end and 0-technique defensive tackle and had the flexibility to be used in multiple ways in their sub packages.
The Steelers worked hard to improve the team's salary cap situation through multiple transactions before and after free agency began and the signing of free safety Mike Mitchell, which didn’t mortgage the future. A large non-guaranteed 5-year, $25 million deal doesn't negatively affect their current cap position. They restructured cornerback Ike Taylor’s contract, released linebacker LaMarr Woodley, who just signed with the Oakland Raiders and said farewell to safety Ryan Clark. All this on the defensive side of the ball and they still haven’t dealt with the Brett Keisel situation. The Steelers feel that the return of Brett Keisel is a viable option, even at 35. He's a veteran who can help groom two potential successors in Brian Arnfelt and Nick Williams, both were undrafted free agents in 2013. Williams was injured the whole season and Arnfelt spent most of his time late in the season on special teams.
Former Steelers first round pick Ziggy Hood just signed with the Jaguars on Thursday leaving the Steelers with little or no defensive lineman and absolutely no depth. Only nose tackle Steve McClendon and DE/DL Cameron Heyward remain. The Steelers lose their second defensive end in two days. Ziggy Hood's contract with the Jaguars is 4 years for $16 million, with $5.5 million guaranteed. For sake of comparison, Hood's 5-year rookie deal with the Steelers was worth around $10 million. He left one of the best NFL franchises to one of the worst. Hood will be joining Chris Clemons, formerly of the Seattle Seahawks, in the AFC South.
Hood never lived up to expectations as a first rounder and failed to take hold of a starting job. Hood was one of the strongest members of the Steelers in practice, but never really took it to the field with production. Either way, the Steelers' depth on its defensive line is a definite issue and won’t necessarily be solved or addressed in the draft. Plus, the Steelers traditionally like their defensive linemen to come in, learn, and play sparingly to become adept at their defensive scheme. That’s why the re-signing of Al Woods, a proven and decent player, would have made sense. The Steelers didn’t even try to re-sign him. It’s not like he was looking to break the bank.Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
The Pittsburgh Steelers have begun their search for a veteran defensive lineman to recoup some of their losses. One player that has caught their eye is defensive lineman Alex Carrington, former Buffalo Bill. Carrington is 6-foot-5, 301 pounds and only 26. He is a versatile kind of player similar to Al Woods, but much bigger and stronger and can play in many different schemes. Carrington was playing very well in 2012 for the Bills and was prepared to have a big contract year, but an injury put him out for the remainder of the season in week 3. He's viewed as an interior defensive pass rusher, but his size allows him to work as a 5-technique defensive end in the Steelers 3-4 scheme, where Al Woods was penciled in. Maybe Ziggy Hood is more suited in Jacksonville because they run a 4-3 defense. Hood never seemed to fit into the Steeler scheme. Carrington seems to fit the mold better, especially in sub packages with 2 defensive linemen. He plays like a larger version of Cameron Heyward with his height and ability to bat down passes and is a consistent run stopper.
Carrington has played multiple positions since he has been in the league. He has transitioned from OLB to 4-3 DE to 3-4 DT and this year in their hybrid front he played as a 3-4 DE and 4-3 DE. That certainly could lead to slow development for a player along with there coaching carousal.
Ironically, Carrington was a college teammate of former Steelers TE David Johnson at Arkansas State. Johnson was taken by Pittsburgh in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL Draft, and Carrington went in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft to Buffalo. Alex Carrington will meet with the Steelers on Thursday night.
Look for the Pittsburgh Steelers to continue to peruse the market for some veteran defensive players, particularly on the line, as well as addressing the position in May's NFL Draft. What a turn of events. Just a week ago in my posts, I pointed out the need to go out and get some defensive backs. Boy, how quickly the tide changes in the NFL.