INDIANAPOLIS - Is the thought of Brandon Marshall coming to the Steelers intriguing? Sure.
Is it likely to happen? No.
As soon as Marshall’s pending release from the New York Jets was announced, social media lit up with questions about whether the Steelers would be interested in bringing the Pittsburgh native back home.
But it’s not happening.
First, Marshall is 32 years old and turns 33 later this month.
There have been just 54 receivers in the history of the league who have produced a 1,000-yard season at 33. That number drops to 37 at age 34 and 17 at age 35.
So the odds are against Marshall, who had 788 yards on 59 catches last season on 128 targets, rebounding in 2017.
The other thing working against Marshall signing with the Steelers is the fact the team just gave Antonio Brown a big contract.
The big money in Brown’s deal doesn’t really kick in until next year - his base salary this year is $910,000, which is offset by his $19 million signing bonus.
But the Steelers aren’t likely to spend more big money at that position.
Despite what GM Kevin Colbert has said publicly, the Steelers are hoping Martavis Bryant coming back, strong, healthy and motivated.
Are they counting on that? Not necessarily. They’ll still draft another receiver at some point this year. And they feel Sammie Coates, with an offseason to get his physical ailments worked out, will take another step forward.
They’ve also got Eli Rogers, DeMarcus Ayers and Cobi Hamilton in the system. All are guys who should continue to get better.
So signing Marshall, in my opinion, is a pipe dream.
@ Colbert said earlier this week that the Steelers have now put Le’Veon Bell’s new contract on the back burner while they work on getting some other contracts done with potential free agents.
Then, the next day, an NFL Network report said the Steelers are actively working on a new deal with Bell that will make him the league’s highest-paid running back.
With the release of Adrian Peterson, Bell already will be the league’s highest-paid running back in 2017, even if the Steelers do nothing with his contract and he plays for the franchise tag contract of $12.12 million.
And the Steelers have until July 15 to get a long-term deal worked out with Bell.
There is no incentive for either side at this point to work on a new deal. Bell currently has no leverage - not being eligible to speak with other teams because of his exclusive rights status - and the Steelers know they have other issues with which they have to deal.
So, no, contract talks are not currently ongoing and probably won’t be until after the draft.
@ The news that the Rams will be the latest team to a 3-4 defense isn’t good news for the Steelers.
By my count, that will be 14 teams using the 3-4 next season, 15 using a 4-3 and the other four using hybrid schemes.
Why does that matter?
The Rams have long been a 4-3 team. Their roster is currently constructed with 4-3 players. So they are going to have to be very active in both the draft and free agency in acquiring 3-4 fits.
That not only means they will now be picking from the same pool of players as the Steelers - taking some of those light-in-the-pants defensive ends - but they also will be helping to drive up the price for players for their new scheme.
And even though the Steelers aren’t all that active on the free agent market, their players see what others are getting around the league, which helps set their value.