Big Signings ?

Everyone has been waiting for the Steelers to make a big splash in free agency. Instead, they have been more content to do the equivalent of a belly flop.<br> <br> Now that the team has signed veteran offensive lineman Todd Fordham to a three-year deal and tight end Matt Cushing to a one-year contract, their offseason looks like this.

Signed: One below-average offensive lineman, two backup tight ends, a backup quarterback and backup linebacker. It's not exactly scintillating stuff.

Cushing, who had shoulder surgery in January, will count $450,000 against the team's salary cap. He received no signing bonus. He has been released and re-signed in each of the previous two seasons by the Steelers. The 6-5, 315-pound Fordham started nine games at right tackle for the Jaguars last season after a broken leg knocked starter Mo Williams out of the lineup. He started 21 games in five previous pro seasons. He was an undrafted rookie in 1997 with Jacksonville, left in 2001 to sign as a free agent with Denver but rejoined the Jaguars that season after the Broncos released him.

His signing would seem to point to the Steelers moving right tackle Marvel Smith to the left side to replace departed Wayne Gandy.

That would leave Fordham, Oliver Ross and Mathias Nkwenti to battle it out for the right tackle spot. It also gives the Steelers some flexibility. With both Fordham and Ross on the roster, the Steelers now have two players capable of playing guard or tackle.

The only question is, how well?

Previously, the Steelers signed backup tight end Jerame Tuman and quarterback Charlie Batch. The Steelers also signed linebacker Clint Kriewaldt, a free agent from Detroit.

They have still not added a player to address their most glaring need - safety.

Last week, safety Dexter Jackson turned down the Steelers' five-year, $12 million offer to sign with Arizona for $14 million. Thus far, there appears to be no truth to the rumors the team is going after free agents Sammy Knight or Keion Carpenter and it appears the Steelers will wait until after the draft to see if they need to sign a veteran safety.

Dale Lolley

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