NFL from the Sidelines

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O-R Sports reporter Dale Lolley gets you the insider scoop on the NFL.

After hobnobbing around the NFL in the press boxes and sidelines, sports reporter Dale Lolley will let you know the insider scoop. Dale can also be heard on the Steelers radio network pre-game show prior to every game. Follow him on Twitter at dlolleyor.

Steelers will see your Revis and Barnidge, raise you a McDonald and Haden

August 30, 2017
FILE - In this Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016 file photo, Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden practices before an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Cleveland. Coach Hue Jackson isn’t denying a report that the Cleveland Browns are attempting to trade cornerback Joe Haden. Jackson says he wants the two-time Pro Bowler on his defense, but he deferred to Sashi Brown, the team’s top front-office executive, to make decisions that help the Browns, Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane, File)

A day after acquiring veteran tight end Vance McDonald and a fifth-round draft pick for a fourth-round selection, the Steelers made another big splash by signing cornerback Joe Haden just hours after he had been released by Cleveland.

Yep, the Steelers are “going for it.”

That’s a phrase that’s thrown around a lot by fans. And throughout the offseason, one of the big complaints coming from Steelers fans was that the team had done little to help itself beat the Patriots.

I wonder how that crowd is feeling now?

That was the crowd that insisted the Steelers weren’t trying to win because they didn’t sign washed up free agents Darrelle Revis and Gary Barnidge, a pair of players way on the wrong side of 30.

@ I don’t know that the additions of McDonald and Haden make the Steelers the favorites in the AFC because the Patriots are still good. But the gap certainly has been narrowed.

The big offseason moves the Patriots made - signing corner Stephon Gilmore and running back Mike Gillislee and trading for defensive end Kony Ealy and receiver Brandin Cooks - haven’t exactly been home runs.

Gilmore only slightly offsets the loss of Logan Ryan to Tennessee, while the Patriots released Ealy last week. Gillislee was injured for much of training camp and the signing of Cooks was offset by Julian Edelman being lost to a season-ending knee injury last week.

There’s nothing that says both moves the Steelers made this week will work out. But at least both guys are healthy right now and are upgrades at positions at which an upgrade was needed.

@ Haden should be able to play right away for the Steelers. Remember, they open the season at Cleveland.

He should know that offense inside and out. And former Steelers defensive backs coach Ray Horton spent time in Cleveland as defensive coordinator, so the terminology shouldn’t be an issue, either.

@ The Steelers only have a couple of days to continue to work on a contract extension with defensive end Stephon Tuitt. Once they cut rosters down to 53 on Saturday, it’s time to move on to the regular season.

And the team won’t continue negotiations into the regular season.

@ So who loses their job with the signing of Haden? The guess here is that Ross Cockrell won’t be around much longer.

That’s a shame. Cockrell is a good guy and had been a major contributor the past two seasons.

But he costs $1.75 million this season and Coty Sensabaugh is $1 million less than that.

@ Friday will be a big day for the Steelers. Le’Veon Bell will report and sign his franchise tender offer. And the Steelers expected to hear from the league that receiver Martavis Bryant has been cleared to return to play this season.

Those are two pretty big additions as well, no?

If the Steelers had done nothing else this offseason other than get Bryant back, they still would have made a major improvement from 2016.

@ The Steelers are paying Haden $7 million this season, though his total package is worth $27 million over three years. Essentially, the team will be able to cut him after this season if it doesn’t work out.

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