Steelers Are Investing Too Much On Pouncey

47953-330-0The Pittsburgh Steelers made center Maurkice Pouncey the highest-paid man at his position today with a contract extension for five more years valued at $44 million dollars. They also gave him a signing bonus greater than what was given Colin Kaepernick last week. While this signing will be welcomed by many across the Steeler Nation, I can’t say I’m overly thrilled by it.

As with any football player, there are risks. But the risks surrounding Pouncey are too many for me to give my blessing on this deal.

For starters, Pouncey is coming off a season in which he tore an ACL in the team’s opener. Despite starting all 16 games in his rookie campaign, he missed Super Bowl XLV with a leg injury. Injuries of differing severity have been an issue for him since being drafted in 2010.

I could try and tell you that his association with Aaron Hernandez doesn’t matter here but I that wouldn’t be fair. Anytime you wear a ‘Free Hernandez’ hat days after your buddy is arrested for murder shows the level of maturity we are dealing with here. Be that as it is, his off-field situation really has nothing to do with why I don’t like this move.

Since coming aboard the Steelers have ranked 11th, 14th and 26th in the NFL in rushing. Obviously using last year’s numbers wouldn’t be fair because he missed the entire season. While I could accept the argument that 11th and 14th are respectable, the pass protection numbers are the real indicators of why I don’t like this deal.

In 2010, the offensive line gave up 43 sacks and 78 quarterback hits. In 2011, it was 42 sacks and 77 QB hits while in his last full season in 2012, the O-line surrendered 37 sacks and 67 QB hits.

Now, much of the blame for the high sack and hit totals was laid at the feet of the outside protectors but often the pressure in the ‘A’ gaps was just as bad and that’s the area Pouncey is typically responsible for depending on the blocking scheme and adjustments. The guards are obviously party to this too so I won’t lay it all on Pouncey.

While no one would debate Pouncey’s athleticism versus his replacements Fernando Velasco and Cody Wallace last year, the fact is, they performed better. Ben Roethlisberger was sacked less than ten times over the team’s final eight games and the pressure from up the middle was reduced.

Ironically, Velasco graded out better than Pouncey did in the 2012 season by Pro Football Focus when he anchored the Tennessee offensive line. I take PFF with a grain of salt but they weren’t the only ones down on Pouncey. Search ‘overrated NFL Players’ and Pouncey is almost always on the list.

I’m of the mind that you just don’t pay a center this kind of money. Perhaps that’s old school thinking but when you have consistently paid your defense and let the offense slide, keeping the center happy isn’t the highest priority on my list. The Steelers are gambling that Pouncey will stay healthy and will stay out of trouble for the next five years.

That’s a gamble I’m not willing to take. The Steelers know the value of having an anchor at the center position simply from looking at their history but those were different times. This type of money was better spent on other areas of the offense.

Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard weekly on Trib-Live Radio talking Steelers and is a blogger for ESPN 970 in Pittsburgh.

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8 comments on “Steelers Are Investing Too Much On Pouncey

  1. The Rooney’s know the Center is the linchpin of the OL. They miss the days of Webster, Dawson, and even Hartings so I realize they want stability there. That’s fine, but paying Pouncey this much money when he’s spent most of the last two seasons hurt is just ridiculous. There’s no reason they couldn’t wait and see how he does and if he stays healthy then sign him to an extension mid season. Who cares about your “we don’t do contracts mid year” mindset. They need to get over that crap too. I swear this team loves living on the edge of the salary cap. Here’s an idea, how bout keep that 5 mill or so you had yesterday and actually have a buffer when you need it. And in the process you make sure your star center isn’t going to end up on the bench after the first quarter of the first game, just cashing those checks every week.

    /Rant Off

    • Ya know, it really isn’t even about the injuries for me. The Steelers proved with a lame-duck OL coach and two “less than standout” backup centers that they were capable of protecting Ben and running the ball. Therefore, why pay so much damn money?!?!?!?!?

  2. The Steelers o-line speaks for itself outside the Steeler fan base it is a totally non-respected group. And for good reason they haven’t done anything. I here all the talk about the individuals of this group but there is no basis for it. So with this in mind no one in this group deserve anything other than below grade pay because that’s who they are. I understand the importance of a good center but i think left tackle is the most important position on an NFL line. And the Steelers ignore the importance of this position just as they have CB. “sometimes a just don’t get there philosophy”

  3. I like the deal! We need to secure great offensive line players. Remember when we lost Faneca? For whatever reason it was that we did not resign him, it hurt our line and was the beginning of the end for our O-Line. How could anyone thinks this deal stinks just because of the freak injury last year and because he showed some support in the beginning for his old friend just shows ignorance. He put on that shirt before any of us knew more details. Obviously Pouncy would be an idiot if he put a “free Hernandez” shirt on now. How many Rookies do you know that started at Center??? And he’s a two time pro bowler… But you think the money is wasted… That’s why you people don’t make decisions for any team… Bob Graff, what’s your point? Ditch a pro-bowl center just to find a non-available Left Tackle? You keep and hold onto the best that you have when you can not take gambles. Ya, I wanted a CB too and was pissed about the Shazier pick and though we don’t know what kind of a player is going to turn out to be yet, the potential looks amazing and worthy. Our problem with CB is simple… Stop re-signing garbage retreads and stop trading garbage with Arizona… Coverage Corners > than Hitting Corners. William Gay can hit but he’s garbage where it counts in coverage.

    • Let’s look at the injury first, i think it wasn’t a freak injury watch the replay Decastro cut blocked his own player. It wasn’t freakish at all, it was down right stupid. Just like giving Pouncey a new deal right now is. Don’t get me wrong Pouncey is a good player but not and over whelming presence by any means.[ his game is all finesse] Second it would have been nice for Faneca to retire a Steeler. But in hindsight at that point in his career it turned out to be the right move.Lastly and probably the most important is the current state of the o-line. It just another example of failures on draft day by the Steelers and it’s not going to go away by throwing money at it. With that said let’s hope Munchak can do something to prove it was coaching and not a personnel issue.

  4. I’m in the camp of overpaid player. With his Hernandez comment, coming off knee surgery and the fact that several players filled in adequately. The Steelers should have had him over the barrel. If they move him out to Guard maybe they got a deal, but overpaid at Center.

    • That’s where I am McCard. Some say Velasco wasn’t as good as he appeared and that maybe Wallace was actually better. My thinking is simple; the run and pass protection both got better without Pouncey so why do we need to invest that kind of money?

  5. Pingback: Bad News On Pouncey Provokes All Kinds of Steelers’ Related Tweets | Fan Headquarters

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