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Steeler Upgrade Left Tackle, Lose McClendon

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The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to be uncharacteristically active in free agency, signing former Denver Broncos left tackle Ryan Harris to a two year $4 million deal yesterday. Harris started all 16 games last season and is slated to take over as our starting LT with Kelvin Beachum exiled to obscurity down in Jacksonville. I can’t say I know much about Harris but anybody charged to protect the blind side of the human statue that was Peyton Manning should be decent. It’s not like any lineman can hold a block the fifteen seconds it sometimes takes Ben to throw the ball.

Beachum, as mentioned, signed with the Jags while linebacker Sean Spence rejoins Dick LeBeau in Tennessee. Beachum did a nice job for us but is coming off a torn ACL which made the idea of signing him to an extension dicey. Losing Spence hurts in that he was very good depth behind extremely talented although oft-injured Ryan Shazier. Perhaps the biggest loss so far was the Jets recent signing of starting nose tackle Steve McClendon.

McClendon had the unenviable job of succeeding Casey Hampton. He was no Big Snack and his smaller, more athletic skill set always seemed ill-suited to the Steelers style of defense. With him gone, they’ll turn to Daniel McCullers, who is much more the traditional big fat clog-up-the-middle style NT we’ve had. The Steelers will almost certainly look to add another one in the draft since this year’s crop is supposedly deep with defensive line prospects.

While the Black and Gold have been active this off-season, I’m a bit surprised about the focus of their efforts. I like the guys we’ve signed but I don’t think TE and LT were glaring holes by any means. I thought for sure Kevin Colbert would try to beef up areas the team is horrifically weak, such as safety and cornerback. Instead, both key free agent signings have gone to the offense. I don’t foresee us struggling to score points, it would be nice if we could maybe try a little harder to prevent the other team from doing so.