Mike Mitchell brought bluster and a physical if occasionally volatile presence to the Pittsburgh secondary. William Gay was a steady hand and contributed a decade of consistency to the Steelers. Robert Golden had the hard-to-quantify intangibles that made him a special teams ace and reliable backup.
And now they're gone.
The two-time defending AFC North champions released all three players Wednesday Womens Andrew Luck Jersey , signaling a shift in direction in a defensive backfield that faltered in key moments last season.
The Steelers won 13 games but also allowed Tom Brady to light them up late in a mid-December loss that determined home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. They couldn't stop Jacksonville's Blake Bortles from orchestrating a playoff upset at Heinz Field that brought a season filled with Super Bowl expectations to an emphatic and sudden halt.
The moves freed up about $7 million in cap space, money Pittsburgh can now use in part to retool around veteran cornerback Joe Haden, promising if erratic cornerback Artie Burns, and safety Sean Davis.
Mitchell spent four uneven seasons with the Steelers, who made a rare splurge in free agency when they brought him in from Carolina in 2014 Womens Terrell Suggs Jersey , signing him to a five-year, $25 million deal. Mitchell picked off four passes and recovered four fumbles in Pittsburgh. He also reined in the questionable hits that cost him tens of thousands of dollars in fines earlier in his career.
He also served as a firebrand for a secondary in transition following the retirement of stars Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor. Yet he would occasionally go for the big hit when a routine tackle would have sufficed, an issue that popped up at inopportune times.
Gay's departure leaves quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as the only player from Pittsburgh's last Super Bowl victory nearly a decade ago. Gay carved out a niche as a reliable and versatile defensive back. He has played in 176 consecutive games while spending 10 of his 11 seasons with the Steelers. Gay's playing time decreased last season as rookie Mike Hilton took over his spot as the nickel back.
Golden filled in at various spots in the secondary, though his real impact was on special teams, a unit he served as the captain from 2014-16.
The moves came a month after Tom Bradley replaced Carnell Lake as defensive backs coach. Lake stepped down shortly after the playoff loss to Jacksonville to spend more time in California to watch his son play high school football.
Pittsburgh Womens Eric Berry Jersey , as has long been its custom, stayed quiet on the first day of the league's new year. The Steelers have focused most of their work over the last six weeks trying to get under the 2018 salary cap, something they've done largely through restructuring existing contracts.
While Pittsburgh has depth concerns at safety and inside linebacker, it's likely the Steelers will rely heavily on the draft to address those needs. Davis and J.J. Wilcox are the only safeties on the current roster with serious NFL experience. Pro Bowl linebacker Ryan Shazier has already been ruled out for 2018 as he recovers from spinal surgery in December.
Talk of Antonio Gates‘ return to the Chargers has remained just that at this point, so Virgil Green remains the top man on the depth chart at tight end with Hunter Henry out for the year.
Green signed with the Chargers as a free agent this offseason and said after spring work that he felt he was adjusting well to life with quarterback Philip Rivers. Based on what Rivers has to say Womens Luke Kuechly Jersey , that connection has gotten stronger since the start of training camp.
“[Our connection] is growing,” Rivers said, via the team’s website. “We’re working through how I like things, what I’m expecting on certain routes. He’s getting a feel for this offense. He was in it similarly with [former Chargers coach Mike] McCoy [in Denver]. Virgil is going to be just fine. He has played a lot of football and is a good football player. Those kind of things, you’ll see more of that and more plays like that.”
Green has 71 catches in his seven-year career and came to the Chargers with the expectation that he’d be a blocking complement to Henry in the offense. That plan has changed and Rivers’ history says a close connection with Green will lead to a lot more work as a receiver during his first year with his new team.
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