My original title was “Steelers fall into the Moats” but that pun was groan worthy even for me.
The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to chip away at their depleted roster, signing linebacker Arthur Moats to a one year minimum salary deal. Moats started 12 games for the Buffalo Bills last season although initial reports seem to indicate he’s being brought in as a super-sub capable of backing up at both inside and outside linebacker. If the team pegged him as a potential starter, it does stand to reason they’d sign him for longer than a year.
That being said, with Larry Foote gone and Vince Williams having a somewhat inconsistent rookie year, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Steelers give Moats a look at ILB. He played DE in college and weakside linebacker in Buffalo’s 4-3 so that’s why people have been viewing him as a back-up OLB. However, Moats was also listed as their top back-up at MLB which would indicate he’s comfortable playing inside as well.
Williams will undoubtedly go into camp as the nominal starter alongside Lawrence Timmons. For a rookie late round pick who was more or less forced into the starting line-up due to injuries, VW did alright. While the run defense obviously suffered from poor play by the defensive line, Williams didn’t help matters by getting pancaked out of plays or missing tackles. Since the scouting report on him was “good run stuffer” that’s not exactly what you were hoping to see.
With no viable alternatives on the roster – unless they take one in the draft – it certainly wouldn’t hurt to give Williams a little push by introducing some competition with Arthur Moats. At worst, the Steelers added a pretty good depth guy who can relieve Jarvis Jones and is supposedly an excellent special teams player. I know a lot of Steeler Nation wants them to re-sign James Harrison and while this move certainly doesn’t totally rule it out – the top sub at OLB before Moats signed was mediocre Chris Carter – it does make a reunion somewhat less likely.
I’m still not sure how much the Steelers have actually improved their defense this off-season. I guess we’ll have to wait until they get to Latrobe to get those answers. But they’ve definitely made an effort to bring in upgrades wherever they can – and their budget would allow. If nothing else, at least they’re getting younger.