Pittsburgh Steelers: Out with the old, in with the…old?

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been following an unusual trend as of late that’s left me to scratch my head and ponder why they’re doing this.

The Steelers have been bringing back several former players for another go-around with the team. Players that include Larry Foote, Plaxico Burress, William Gay, and Matt Spaeth. The team has done this on several occasions. The team also brought back the likes of Max Starks, Antwaan Randle El and Bryant McFadden in past seasons.

Among these players, Foote, Burress, Gay, and Spaeth are all currently on the Steelers’ roster. Foote spent 2009 with the Detroit Lions and was brought back to the Steelers in 2010. Burress spent time with the New York Giants, New York Jets and prison before being resigned to the Steelers in 2012. Gay was an Arizona Cardinal who was just signed back to the Steelers this offseason along with Spaeth who played 2 seasons for the Chicago Bears.

Looking at the players who are on the current roster, it didn’t make sense to bring back most of these guys. The only one that has been a reasonable addition is Foote. Foote is considered a veteran of the game and is up there when it comes to football age but Foote has been solid for the Steelers since being brought back. He hasn’t really given me a reason to truly believe it was horrible decision to re-sign him. However,  there is always the option of given someone younger a shot who could turn out to be a long-term answer. Nonetheless, Foote has given the Steelers good play for a few seasons now and can hopefully continue to do so.

Burress was definitely someone I was shocked to see re-signed. Burress is clearly not the same receiver he once was during his first stint in the Steel City. Throw in his history of offseason nonsense and it just seems like he’d be more of a headache than a valuable player. The only reason for bringing him back could be his size but surely the team could find some other big receiver to sign if his size is what they were truly after.

The Steelers also brought back cornerback William Gay this season. The Steelers definitely needed a cornerback coming into this season but to bring in Gay to fill that void was a horrible move. I for one was never a fan of Gay. He would show some signs of being a solid player but more times than not I felt he wasn’t getting the job done. I would have much rather seen the Steelers draft a young corner and give him shot or find someone on the open market before bringing back Gay. Unless Gay proves this season he can be consistently productive from game to game, I’ll stand by my decision to disagree with the Steelers on bringing him back.

Heath Miller went down with an ACL injury and isn’t expected back for the start of the season. The Steelers went out and yet again brought back a familiar face. This time it was tight end Spaeth, who was drafted by the team back in 2007. Spaeth isn’t a bad player by any means and could make for a decent answer until Miller’s ready to return. Spaeth is a tight end that excels more in the blocking aspect of his position. He definitely won’t be anything like Miller who is always a main target for Ben Roethlisberger,but he’s a familiar player who will bide time until Miller’s back on the field.

But what gives? Why bring these same old faces back?

I can’t seem to really pin point just why the Steelers have been going this route. One reason may be because these former Steeler players were once pretty good for the team. The team’s decision to bring them back could be based on “they weren’t that bad in the past”. If that is a reason, it’s not a very good one. They let these guys go for a reason, don’t try to rekindle an old flame. Unless, the team is re-signing them because they truly believe they lost someone worth a whole lot, then it might be justifiable. However, I hardly think that’s the case. These guys were never players that other teams were aching to get or terribly heartbroken to lose.

To look toward the future, you need to move on from the past. The Steelers can’t seem to grasp this concept. The team needs to be investing their time and money into players they feel are long-term answers for the team. If these old faces can really make a huge difference then I will stand corrected but until then I’m thoroughly against their routine of re-signing former players.

  • Lucero

    I think the reality is players that are available on the open market are usually there for a reason. Every now and then, a team is going to get a high-quality player (like Bettis), but usually, they’re just filling a need or adding depth. Given this, I think the Steelers feel more comfortable picking p players who will have a shorter learning curve when (re)learning the system.

    They have picked up young corners for the past several drafts. That’s a hard position to be good at as a rookie. I wish they hadn’t let Lewis go. But, if you remember, it took him a few seasons to be productive.

  • http://foxsports bob graff

    Saying Burress is not the same he once was makes no sense, most of that is the Steelers just not playing him [you can’t produce if you are not on the field]. As far as the WR corp goes i would rate them BROWN COTHERY BURRESS SANDER WHEATON and the numbers say i’m right.It’s the Steelers who constantly mis-use there skill players.Right now it appears there plan is to start a blocking TE, Brown and Sanders a rookie RB at the skill player positions and if the past is any indication look for very little substitution. If this happens good luck scoring points.

  • Ross McCorkle

    Simple
    1- They are cheap

    2- They know our system, the Steelers Way. << this one is huge. Why spend a couple of years coaching someone up on our system when you can bring someone back who already knows it.

    3- They aren't coming back as starters, just as fill ins or depth players