View Full Version : Three free agents pay the Steelers a visit

Hawaii 5-0
05-09-2012, 01:17 PM
Three free agents pay the Steelers a visit

Posted by Josh Alper on May 9, 2012

http://nbcprofootballtalk.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/daveraynerbuffalobillsvnewyorkjetszlorlwwj7jul.jpg ?w=163

It’s a busy day for visitors at Steelers headquarters.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the team will be playing host to three veteran free agents in search of jobs on Wednesday. Linebacker Brandon Johnson, kicker Dave Rayner and linebacker Matt Roth will all be in Pittsburgh to meet with the team.

Johnson played every game of the last four seasons for the Bengals, mostly as a reserve and key special teams contributor. He would likely play the same role if he wound up with the Steelers and they have a need with the departure of James Farrior earlier this offseason.

Rayner would provide competition for Shaun Suisham. He played one game for the Raiders last year and then wound up in Buffalo after Rian Lindell went down with an injury. Rayner made 10-of-15 field goals for the Bills and he’s made 72.2 percent of them over the course of his career. Suisham has made 37-of-46 field goals in his two years with the Steelers.

Roth played just nine games for the Jaguars last season because of a concussion. He picked up 3.5 sacks in those games and the Steelers are probably looking at him as depth behind James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley as a pass-rushing outside linebacker.


05-09-2012, 01:53 PM
Matt Roth would be an interesting pickup, but almost has the size of a DE in a 3-4 at 6'4" 278lbs. Still from reading up on him seems quick with a burst.


The kicker's percentage is horrible.

05-09-2012, 02:30 PM
I loved Roth coming out of college but he was good, not great, in CLeveland and then left for a contract becasue of a dispute with Cleve management. Love to see another kicker other than Suisham!

05-09-2012, 03:02 PM
I'd be happy with these three coming in, can always use help on ST, need to find someone to compete with Suisham please and I also liked Roth out of school - He was in Cleveland - how could he be happy?

05-09-2012, 04:43 PM
Sure, we need an upgrade over Suisham. But I don't think it's Rayner.
Do the math. 10 out of 15 = 67%. Career average = 72%.
Suisham, 80% last year. Next candidate please! Let's keep looking.

05-09-2012, 06:42 PM
Rayner and Suisham both suck, we need to be going for Longwell. I know he's old but he's still pretty good.

Hawaii 5-0
05-09-2012, 07:20 PM
Rayner and Suisham both suck, we need to be going for Longwell. I know he's old but he's still pretty good.

Ryan Longwell Would Be Option For The Steelers If Not Well Long Past His Prime

Monday, May 7th, 2012 by Dave Bryan

The Minnesota Vikings released veteran kicker Ryan Longwell and already the cries have started from some in Steeler Nation suggesting that that the Pittsburgh Steelers should sign the 15 year veteran.

Longwell has spent the last six years in Minnesota and he has a career field goal percentage of 83.2. Last season he connected on just 78.6 percent of his attempts and that included going 0-3 outdoors from 40 yards and out.

In addition to his problems kicking outdoors last season, Longwell was also not impressive on his kickoffs either. NFL.com has Longwell documented as only having 19 touchbacks in 2011 on 77 kickoffs with his average distance coming in at a paltry 64.6 yards per kick. Keep in mind that 10 of the 16 games that Longwell kicked in last season were indoors as well.

The Steelers current incumbent is Shaun Suisham, who connected on just 74.2% of his own attempts in 2011 during the regular season. He was just 7 of 13 outside of 40 yards, but did have 28 touchbacks out of 72 kickoffs last season. His average kickoff distance was 66.5 yards, which was not great, but better than that of Longwell.

While Longwell certainly is attractive when you look at his name alone, he is way past his kicking prime now and certainly would not be a huge upgrade over Suisham at this point.

Suisham signed a four-year contract prior to the start of the 2011 season and the deal included a $1.35 signing bonus. That contract still gives him no reason to feel safe though as the Steelers could cut him any time after June 1st and take a dead money hit of $337,500 in 2012 and a $675,000 dead money hit in 2013. Basically they would save $1.35 million in cap space in 2012 minus his replacement cost.

A veteran such as Longwell would cost the Steelers a minimum of $910,000 should he sign a qualifying veteran one-year deal. That deal would come with a cap hit of $540,000 plus whatever signing bonus he were to receive, which would not exceed $65,000 on that type of contract.

As you can see, the Steelers would only save roughly $760,000 in cap space by trading one average kicker for an even older average one. They also would be saddled with a $675,000 dead money hit in 2013 to boot. (Sorry for that pun. I couldn't resist)

While 2011 might have just been a down year for the nearly 38-year old Longwell, he is a mighty risky free agent add based on his age and downward trend. Should the Steelers ultimately decide they are unhappy with Suisham by the start of the 2012 season, there will be plenty of free agents to choose from after the final roster cut downs take place.

The Steelers did sign undrafted kicker Grant Ressel to push Suisham in camp, but even Ressel had his problems in his final season at Missouri as he was 9 of 16 on the season. Ressel missed the final five games of 2011 with a strained hip flexor and some speculate that might have been the root of his accuracy problem early in the season after having a stellar 2009 and 2010 season.


05-10-2012, 05:44 AM
Longwell is not the answer. Keep looking. Suisham is the worst kicker we've had in many years and I worry about any kick over 35 yards. Also, I've noticed that while many teams kick the ball through the endzone on kickoffs, we don't. We need a stronger leg.

05-10-2012, 06:15 AM
Longwell is not the answer. Keep looking. Suisham is the worst kicker we've had in many years and I worry about any kick over 35 yards. Also, I've noticed that while many teams kick the ball through the endzone on kickoffs, we don't. We need a stronger leg.

It's called steroids!

05-10-2012, 04:28 PM
Grant Ressel really has to come in and hit everything, including kicks in camp. He has to show strong leg strength on kickoffs and then he still might not make it. As often the case with a veteran there has to be a bad game in there where he chokes, then Ressel may be given a call. Vets do have their salaries guaranteed the full year as well causing more problems in releasing Suisham mid season. Here's hoping Ressel has found a good sports shrink and excels.

Hawaii 5-0
05-10-2012, 04:28 PM
Steelers Activity in Free Agency Continuing to Buzz, Host Three Veterans

by Neal Coolong on May 10, 2012


The significance of the visits of veteran free agents K Dave Rayner, ILB Brandon Johnson and OLB Matt Roth aren't exactly earth-shattering.

They do represent a push to solidify training camp competition, if not add depth to the 53-man roster.

At least with the two linebacker candidates, Johnson and Roth, the Steelers could use some depth, and both Johnson and Roth could be spot starters.

Having a player like Johnson, a savvy 4-3 outside linebacker who would play inside in Pittsburgh, may have helped the Steelers midway through last year, when James Farrior went down with injury, and depleted their ILB depth.

Having a fiery, physical player like Roth in 2011 would have helped keep the unit afloat during a season in which both James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley missed significant time.

Roth seems more of a viable candidate to join the team than Johnson or Rayner (probably just a lead horse to push incumbent Shaun Suisham, who's contract is probably too much to jettison, but the savings aren't enough to bring in anyone significantly better than he is). A tough, heady player, Roth has battled some injuries while playing on doormat teams throughout his career (Miami, Cleveland and Jacksonville).

It wouldn't be surprising if the Steelers may look at him as a defensive end (which is what he played in Miami last season) but likely, in the event of his signing, he'd be an insurance policy on the prize OLBs the Steelers currently have as well as solidify depth behind their young defensive ends. He can contribute on special teams as well.

Johnson, though, has a great combination of size (6-foot-5, 245 pounds) and experience (64 games played since 2008, all with Cincinnati), and could help push Stevenson Sylvester as the buck back-up to Larry Foote.

Both Roth and Johnson are the right kinds of free agents the Steelers should be looking at; Roth in particular. He's big, tough and nasty. He can get after the passer as an OLB in a 3-4 defense, and holds up fairly well at defensive end.


05-10-2012, 04:38 PM
Grant Ressel really has to come in and hit everything, including kicks in camp. He has to show strong leg strength on kickoffs and then he still might not make it. As often the case with a veteran there has to be a bad game in there where he chokes, then Ressel may be given a call. Vets do have their salaries guaranteed the full year as well causing more problems in releasing Suisham mid season. Here's hoping Ressel has found a good sports shrink and excels.

I'm hoping that the Grant Ressel kid, really regains his form and becomes our new kicker.

05-10-2012, 05:40 PM
Whoo....Whoo.....Whoo, they just released a few owls out of Heinz.

05-10-2012, 05:41 PM
We all know that if James Harrison slightly brushes against Peyton Manning or some other quarterback, Roger Goodell will have him sentenced to Guantanamo Bay for the entire season, so I like the idea of having a guy like Roth as an insurance policy.

Hawaii 5-0
05-10-2012, 07:41 PM
I'm hoping that the Grant Ressel kid, really regains his form and becomes our new kicker.

Steelers Should Pull A Jeff Reed With Kicker Grant Ressel

Thursday, May 10th, 2012 by Jeremy Hritz

The Pittsburgh Steelers seemingly made it a point of emphasis to draft players this year to address areas of need at certain positions: David DeCastro and Mike Adams at guard and tackle, respectively, Sean Spence at inside linebacker, Alameda Ta’amu at nose tackle, and Chris Rainey at running back. One position that was not addressed in the draft, and was not expected to be, was kicker.

While Shaun Suisham is not dreadful, his performance during his tenure with the Steelers is not exactly awe-inspiring and reliable. In his two seasons with Pittsburgh, Suisham has made 37 of 46 field goals, which is good for 80%. This is closely aligned with his career average of 79.5%, which could be indicative that he has hit his ceiling and will not improve beyond what he has already shown. Having spent time with the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, and Washington Redskins, Suisham will begin his seventh year in the league in 2012 as an average field goal kicker who missed what could have been game changing kicks in Super Bowl XLV against the Green Bay Packers and in 2011 against the Baltimore Ravens in Pittsburgh. He is also a player that Head Coach Mike Tomlin did not trust in that second Steelers/Ravens game to attempt a 48 yard field goal to give the Steelers a seven point lead. In other words, Suisham is a player whose tenure with the team should be under intense scrutiny heading into training camp this coming summer.

No, I am not making the Lassie call for Jeff Reed here, so leave your paper towel dispensers intact.

However, what I am lobbying for is the serious consideration of rookie free agent kicker, Grant Ressel. Ressel is a 6’2, 190 pound kicker who grew up in Jackson, Missouri and attended the University of Missouri. Ressel walked on and earned the starting placekicker position in 2009, a year in which he earned First Team All-American honors through his performance, nailing 26 of 27 field goals, which when combined with his 39 of 39 extra points resulted in the highest combined kick accuracy in NCAA history (98.5%). His only miss during the season came in horrible weather conditions against Nebraska. Ressel followed 2009 with another great performance in 2010 as he made 17 of 19 field goals and went 45 of 47 on extra points (EP misses that were attributed to high snaps).

The reality check came in 2011.

In his senior season, Ressel hit only on 9 of 16 (56%) field goals and was 30 for 30 on extra points. His misses garnered some buzz in the Mizzou media about his confidence, and unfortunately, a hip flexor injury sidelined him for the rest of the year following a contest against Oklahoma State in which Ressel would make the final field goal of his collegiate career, a 26 yarder.

The ultimate question now is who is the true Grant Ressel? The impeccable one from 2009 and 2010, or the spotty, injury-hampered Missourian from 2011?

In 2002 when the Steelers were suffering at the foot of kicker Todd Peterson, the infamous Reed was brought in for a tryout midseason as a kicker from North Carolina who connected on only 77% of his field goals in college and never hit anything longer than 49 yards. So why not give Ressel an extended, analytical look? His field goal percentage in college was seven percent higher than Reed’s in college (84%), plus he did connect on a 50-yard field goal (Ressel also averaged 64 yards on his kickoffs).

While “Sushi” is not the worst, he is not the best, and he will not be the best any time soon. Like in 2002 with Reed, it may serve the Steelers well to take a chance on a rookie free agent who has shown that he is capable of kicking excellence.

If the real Missouri kicker is the one from 2009 and 2010, I’m going to put my faith in him to “Ressel” the job away from the Suisham this August.


05-11-2012, 11:54 AM
PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope thye get a new kicker this year. Suisham is just too unreliable and we will need those 3 points in the AFCN!

05-11-2012, 01:48 PM
Grant Ressel must still be all messed up as they released him after rookie minicamp. How bad do you have to be to be released from a rookie minicamp when your the only kicker there?


Now the pickings are real slim.

Hawaii 5-0
05-12-2012, 08:16 PM
Signing Brandon Johnson Would Be A Good Move For The Steelers

May 12th, 2012 by DomSteelers


The Steelers (as usual) were not an extremely active team during the busy part of Free Agency this season. Yet on Wednesday, ESPN reported that Pittsburgh had brought three players in for visits: Kicker Dave Rayner, Defensive End/Outside Linebacker Matt Roth, and Linebacker Brandon Johnson. While none of these guys are thought to be “star” players, the more I think about the Steelers possibly acquiring Brandon Johnson, the more I believe he could be a solid addition to the team.

Helping and Adding Depth at Inside Linebacker

At 6’5” 245 lbs., Johnson is more than capable of moving to one of the Inside Linebacker positions in a backup role. Probably the position Johnson is best suited to play is the Strongside “Buck” simply because of his size. I am sure it would take Johnson some time to learn the complicated 3-4 LeBeau scheme, but Johnson is a savvy veteran, with a large frame, and can hold his own against the run. By acquiring Johnson, Pittsburgh could have him immediately competing with Stevenson Sylvester for the top backup role behind Larry Foote at the “Buck” spot. Make no mistake, Foote will be the undisputed starter entering Training Camp due to his experience and overall knowledge of the LeBeau system. Yet Johnson’s presence could help to push Sylvester and create some competition behind Foote. And in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with having too much depth at such an important position like the “Buck.”
Even if Johnson is asked to play the Weakside “Mack” role, his experience and the overall skill-set he acquired and honed as a Weakside “Will” in Cincinnati’s 4-3 could be put to good use at the “Mack” spot too. Because Cincinnati’s Outside Linebackers in their 4-3 system have to do their part on passing downs, Johnson has skills in pass coverage, and has done his part in the passing game with the Bengals. Over the last four years Johnson has collected 3 INT’s and racked up 14 Passes Defended in part-time starting duty and in a backup role. While Johnson may not have the speed or athleticism of a Sean Spence, having somebody to chip in and help in some way to remedy one of Pittsburgh’s biggest ills is always a plus, and his help might be needed at some point if he eventually signs.

Helping on Special Teams

One of the biggest ways that Johnson could help the franchise would be on the Special Teams units. Special Teams Coach Al Everest has done a fine job and Pittsburgh’s Special Teams play has improved over his two years as Coach. Nevertheless, the Steelers coverage units (16th on KR YPR (23.7) and 12th on PR YPR (8.4) in 2011) could still use some help, and adding a capable and intelligent player like Johnson could help on all of the Steelers’ Coverage Units and possibly in Field Goal and Extra Point situations as well.
In 2010, Johnson was voted the Special Teams captain by Cincinnati, and over his four seasons with the club made his biggest impact on Special Teams. The best part about acquiring a player like Johnson is that he has done an excellent job on Special Teams over the course of his career, acquired a large amount of experience in said phase of the game (played in all 66 games with team), and should boost the production of a middling unit like the Steelers’. If the Steelers seek to improve on their Coverage Units (kind of like they did with Keyaron Fox when he signed in ’08), they should seriously consider adding Johnson to the mix.

Hurts Cincinnati in the Process

I do not think I need to go into too much detail as to why this reason is so important: Johnson’s departure from Cincinnati and subsequent arrival in Pittsburgh hurts a fellow A.F.C. North foe. Not only does adding Johnson to the Steelers roster strengthen Pittsburgh’s Linebacking Corps and Special Teams Units, it weakens Cincinnati’s Linebacking Corps and Special Teams Units in the process. Pittsburgh gets a backup at likely the “Buck” (or even the “Mack”) spot and Cincinnati loses their top backup at Outside Linebacker and a veteran presence on the field and in the locker room. If injuries happen to strike Cincinnati at Outside Linebacker or even Middle Linebacker, they could have a tough time without the versatile Johnson on the team. Why the Bengals are even letting him test the Free Agent waters I am not sure, because as far as I know, they have plenty of cap space, but if they are comfortable with the depth they have then so be it.

Final Thoughts

If Johnson can be signed to a contract that Pittsburgh can afford, I see no reason why he should not be suiting up for the Black & Gold this Fall. Sure, the acquisition of a backup Linebacker might now make the national media “ooh” and “ahh.” Heck, some even in “Steeler Nation” might question the signing. But you know what? I see the signing of Johnson as an intelligent football move, and one which should be strongly considered and hopefully made by this organization.

What the Steelers would ultimately get is a guy who was productive when he saw the field in Cincinnati (214 Tackles in 4 years), displayed versatility on the Defensive side of the ball (backed up all 3 Linebacker positions), was an integral part to the Special Teams units (2010 Captain), provided a healthy and steady presence on the team (played in all 66 games with the team), and still has a good chunk of his career in front of him (29 years old right now). Thus, I believe that the Steelers could use a player like Brandon Johnson on their roster because of what he could ultimately add to the team overall.