Aaron Smith - He's the keystone of the Steelers defense, but rarely gets recognized. The Steelers went against their normal MO for this signing, because Smith was already 31 years old. Nonetheless, signing Smith to a four-year deal worht $25 million was one of the best moves this team could make.
Troy Polamalu - He's one of a kind and there was no way that Pittsburgh would let him leave. Troy is the best strong safety in the league and allows Dick LeBeau to create schemes that other coordinators couldn't dream of. At five year for $33 million, I'd say it's a steal.
Sean Mahan - Let's not discuss this.
Kendall Simmons - It seemed ridiculous to give Simmons a deal worth $6 million per year, especially when the team refused to sign Faneca for $7 million per year. This was a bad offseason for free agent signings. Simmons is a terrible right guard and the offensive line has been better with Darnell Stapleton starting.
Darnell Stapleton - He was an undrafted center from Rutgers, but he stepped in as the starting right guard when Kendall Simmons went down. He is far from superstar, but he's done an admirable job for a guy that had no experience prior to this year.
Lawrence Timmons - With an aging group of linebackers, Colbert and Tomlin decided to draft a playmaking linebacker from Florida St. It was an interesting pick, because most viewed Timmons as a raw talent. He played very little in his rookie year, but has progressed nicely. Even though Timmons doesn't start, he has given the defense speed, coverage, and explosiveness in the nickel and dime package.LaMarr Woodley - Another linebacker. This team needs offensive lineman! But wait, Woodley has turned into a superstar at LOLB and was a huge upgrade from Clark Haggans. Woodley was a steal in the second round and, in 2008, combined with Harrison to become the top Steelers sack duo of all time.
Matt Spaeth - The decision to draft a tight end in the third round was not well received, but Speath has done a nice job as the #2 tight end and played well when Heath Miller was hurt. He has nice hands, but is an average blocker and gets tackled easier than Shaun Alexander.
Dan Sepulveda - The team traded up to draft Sepulvada, finally realizing that special teams are an important part of the game. Steelers nation was pumped when they found out that their punter hits like a linebacker. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL in preseason and the team has been forced to survive with the pu-pu platter of Mitch Berger and Paul Ernster.
William Gay - This was a great draft for the Steelers as their top 5 picks have all contributed to this team. William Gay has played very well in the nickel and dime defenses. The defense continued to play at a high level this season when Gay was forced into the starting line up because of injuries to Townsend and McFadden.
2007 Season: The Steelers start out hot and win the AFC North. They finish slow and lose a home playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Free Agent Departures
Alan Faneca - He's one of the best offensive lineman to ever play for the Steelers, but he was nearing 30 and his price tag was too high. The offensive line continues to decline.
Free Agent Signings
Big Ben - After getting to the AFC Championship in his rookie year and winning the Super Bowl in his second year, Big Ben got the $100 million contract he earned. If he can win on Sunday, he'll be well on his way to Canton.
James Farrior - The unsung hero of the Steelers defense got a contract extension in the off season. His leadership and guidance has been invaluable for young linebackers such as Woodley and Timmons, and inexperienced linebackers such as James Harrison.
Max Starks - Designating a back up tackle as your transition player and paying him $7 million to ride the bench seemed foolish. However, with the injury history of Marvel Smith, this move turned out to be quite prescient. Starks doesn't deserve $7 million per year, but he has played well at left tackle. Without him, I don't think the Steelers would be in the Super Bowl. Therefore, I'm happy to say it was money well spent.
Mewelde Moore - This was a classic Steelers free agent signing. Moore wasn't a marquee name. It didn't make any headlines. But it drastically improved this team. With the injuries to Parker and Mendenhall, Moore stepped in and played extremely well. The offense was forced to shift to a quicker passing attack and Moore's receiving skills have given Ben a reliable check down option. The Steelers probably won two extra games this season because of Moore's play.
Keyaron Fox, Patrick Bailey - Both have contributed to vastly improved special teams coverage.
Rashard Mendenhall - He was hurt early, so the verdict is stil out.
Limas Sweed - Poised to break out in the Super Bowl.
2008 Season - Advanced to Super Bowl, result TBD
Since Super Bowl XL, the Steelers lost a Hall of Fame coach, their best linebacker (Joey Porter), best lineman (Alan Faneca), a pro bowl safety (Chris Hope), best returner (Randle El), a pro bowl center (Hartings), and their best special teamer (Sean Morey). Nonethelss, the 2008 Steelers are in the Super Bowl.
The moves in 2006 were spectacular (Harrison, Clark, Parker, Holmes, and Keisel) and the draft in 2007 landed a stud (Woodley), a potential stud (Timmons), and three contributors (Spaeth, Sepulveda, and Gay). Not to mention the signing of Mike Tomlin. In 2008, the team re-signed Max Starks and signed Mewelde Moore.
Well done, Kevin. Well done.