Less than a week after they decided to match a $2.5 million dollar offer by New England for number three receiver and oft-injured Emmanuel Sanders, the team is now faced with a similar situation with a guy they apparently valued a hell of a lot less than the fans and most certainly other teams. Steelers nose tackle Steve McLendon reportedly visited with the Green Bay Packers and should he sign an offer sheet, the Steelers are in no position to match. This would leave them with basically no one at nose tackle unless you count troubled second-year man Alameda Ta’amu.
Because the Steelers tendered McLendon at the ridiculously low rate of $1.3 million rather than $2 million, this means the Steelers will more than likely get nothing in return should he sign a sheet with the Packers. Had they signed him for just $700,000 more they could have at least received compensation in the form of a draft pick but not now.
The Packers must act soon as the deadline for restricted free agents is the 19th. If the Steelers were to match it would have to come with another roster move more than likely because they are less than a million bucks under the cap.
The bigger issue is something even the most die-hard Steelers’ fan must start to realize and that is that this is not your father’s Steelers’ organization. Since this team lost the AFC Wild-Card game at Denver in January of 2012, the team parted ways with offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, went 8-8 and has seen two significant departures from the coaching staff. Offensive line coach Sean Kugler and receivers coach Scottie Montgomery both left for the college ranks. New Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley has been polarizing without really even trying as those loyal to Arians balked at Haley’s short passing game offense.
Starters Rashard Mendenhall, Mike Wallace, Keenan Lewis, James Harrison and Willie Colon have departed. Sanders nearly left and now you have an up and coming not to mention potential starter in McLendon days away from leaving as well. So I ask, what is going on in the front office?
Is it Art Rooney II? Is it General Manager Kevin Colbert? Is it cap guru Omar Khan? Is it Mike Tomlin?
Actually, it appears to be all of them working together right now in a uniquely strange dance that has all of us mystified. This is not an over-reaction on my part because this is pretty tame for me and if you are sitting there saying, “I trust the Rooneys” and “everything will be fine,” then we are clearly seeing two different things at the moment. Because I question what the organization is doing does not make me an expert or a know-it-all. It makes me a realist who is unafraid to call things like I see them.
The Rooneys have long been one of the most stable and most respected owners in all of professional sports but that doesn’t mean they are safe from criticism when it is warranted. Right now, it is warranted. The mere case of McLendon’s low tender alone screams of organizations like the Lions or Browns, not the Steelers. We don’t make those types of mistakes do we?
I have news for you. Apparently we do and right now the only thing that should save the job of Kevin Colbert is a draft for the ages. The Steelers must pull players that can have immediate impacts and long-term potential or else off-seasons like this one will become the norm. If that’s the case I’d rather tumble down a ski jump while someone says “the agony of defeat….”