Just when it seemed like the Pittsburgh Steelers had withdrawn from the player-negotiation process, one of its key free agents, reserve linebacker Arthur Moats, announced via Twitter that he re-signed with the team.
"Steeler Nation, I'm proud to announce that my family and I will be staying in Pittsburgh! #GoSteelers!"
Moats signed a three-year, $7.5 million deal with the team. Soon thereafter, the Steelers announced the signing of 31-year-old tight end Matt Spaethto a two-year deal and released 36-year-old defensive end Brett Keisel.
Moats started 10 games last season at right outside linebacker in place of the injured Jarvis Jones. Moats alternated at the position with James Harrison and recorded 23 tackles, four sacks, seven quarterback pressures and forced two fumbles.
The 6-2, 250-pounder who will turn 27 on Saturday was valued by a team that had only one experienced outside linebacker -- Jones -- under contract. Moats is expected to provide depth on the right side behind Jones as the Steelers seek strong-side linebackers in free agency, the draft, and possibly in Harrison, who will become a free agent tomorrow and is working out in the hope of rejoining the team.
Free agency officially begins Tuesday at 4 p.m. but teams have already agreed to unofficial deals during the "negotiating period," which started over the weekend.
The Steelers have not been linked to any outside free agents yet. In fact, prior to the signing of Moats, the only news coming out of the South Side had been a peculiar announcement from General Manager Kevin Colbert about a lack of information concerning Troy Polamalu:
"At this time," Colbert reported via Steelers.com, "we do not have an update on Troy Polamalu or his contract status. We will continue to communicate with Troy and his representatives regarding his future."
Polamalu is believed to have played his final game with the Steelers. The Steelers would save $3.75 million if Polamalu is released before June 1, or $6 million if they announce he will be released following June 1. However, such a tactic would push $2.25 million onto the 2016 salary cap. Also, the Steelers can take advantage of that $6 million savings before June 1 with the latter pronouncement.
The remainder of the Steelers' group of free agents includes Harrison, Worilds, Brice McCain, Will Allen, Ike Taylor, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Clifton Geathers and Michael Palmer. None of those players have been linked to another team in the early negotiating process.
The restricted free agents are Antwon Blake, Robert Golden and Will Johnson were tendered the $1.542 million right-of-first-refusal tender, meaning the team would keep the player if it matches any other team's offer.
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