Safety Mike Mitchell passed his physical today and the Steelers made the 5 year signing official Wednesday afternoon. The deal is worth $25 million over 5 years with $5.25 million guaranteed.
What does the signing mean for the Steelers? Two things quickly jump out.
They have upgraded at the safety position in a big way over an aging Ryan Clark and secondly they have eliminated the need to draft a safety in the first couple rounds which is very important for a team on the cusp of being a playoff contender that is very thin at a number of positions, namely wide receiver, defensive line, inside linebacker, running back and cornerback. You can even add outside linebacker as a position where the Steelers lack ideal depth.
With the signing of Mitchell, the Steelers have gotten faster and bigger at the safety position. One key element coming out of Steelers headquarters is that the addition of Mitchell puts them back on track to becoming an intimidating defense once again. Mitchell is a hard hitter who has that intimidating factor about him, something the coaching staff feels this group has lacked the last couple years.
Mitchell is much better in coverage than he is against the run as he misses a lot of tackles, though, that’s an area the Steelers are said to feel can be fixed.
Mitchel has a lot of range and with Troy Polamalu playing so close to the line of scrimmage that will continue in 2014, Mitchell can play that deep center field type role. The two should mesh well together whether it’s for one or two seasons.
When it comes to Mitchell’s emergence in 2013, evaluators buzz about how well he can matchup against big receivers and tight ends.
That’s critical in today’s NFL to have those type of players in the secondary who can cover big receivers and tight ends. No. 1 cornerback Cortez Allen has also showed that same ability at times in his career.
The Mitchell signing has no bearing on the Steelers long-term plans for 2013 4th round pick Shamarko Thomas. The Steelers have always envisioned him as a strong safety and he reminds some Steelers scouts of Bob Sanders. The Steelers depth chart at safety is Troy Polamalu, Mike Mitchell, Will Allen and Shamarko Thomas.
While the signing of Mitchell takes safety out of first round consideration, Ike Taylor agreeing to a $4.25 million paycut this week doesn’t change things at cornerback. Cornerback will remain a position very much on the Steelers radar in rounds 1-3. Steelers GM Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin met with Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard, a first round prospect this week.