Steelers re-sign long-snapper, but lose Lewis

March 14, 2013

The free-agent turnstile continued to spin Thursday for the Steelers as they re-signed a player, lost two others and kicked the tires on a couple of other players.

Pittsburgh re-signed long-snapper Greg Warren to a one-year deal, keeping a key component of their special teams.

But that signing was more than offset by loss of cornerback Keenan Lewis, who signed a five-year deal with New Orleans worth $26.3 million.

Lewis, a native of New Orleans, and wide receiver Mike Wallace were members of the Steelers’ 2009 draft class. Wallace, a childhood friend of Lewis, signed with the Miami Dolphins Tuesday.

With their departures, the Steelers have only defensive end Ziggy Hood and tight end David Johnson – who re-signed earlier this week – remaining from their 2009 draft. Hood was a first-round pick and Johnson a seventh.

Lewis had an outstanding season last year, leading the league in passes defensed with 21. But the Steelers like the potential of third-year cornerback Cortez Allen and expect him to move into the starting lineup opposite Ike Taylor.

The Steelers also signed free agent William Gay to compete for the nickel spot.

Free-agent safety Ryan Mundy visited the New York Giants and agreed to a contract.

A Pittsburgh native, Mundy has with the Steelers for four seasons but has never been anything more than a spot starter. Mundy and running back Rashard Mendenhall had been Pittsburgh’s two remaining players from its 2008 draft.

Tight end Kellen Davis, released by the Chicago Bears earlier this week, was expected to visit Pittsburgh Thursday. Former Arizona running back Beanie Wells and Dallas linebacker Victor Butler will visit today.

The Steelers brought in Davis because starting tight end Heath Miller might not be ready to begin the season after suffering a torn knee ligament at the end of last season.

Davis started the past two seasons for Chicago. He is considered a better blocker than pass receiver. He had only 37 receptions for 435 yards with six touchdowns in the last two years.

Wells spent four seasons in Arizona, where he was a first-round draft pick. He has struggled with knee injuries that have limited him to only 51 career games. Wells, 24, had a 1,000-yard season in 2011, playing in only 14 games.

Wells (6-2, 230) would help the Steelers replace Mendenhall, who signed Wednesday with Arizona to replace Wells.

Wells has 2,471 career rushing yards and 24 touchdowns.

The 25-year-old Butler spent the past four seasons with Dallas, which selected him in the fourth round of the 2009 draft. As a backup to starters DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer, Butler has 11 sacks, including three last year.

Dale Lolley has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1993 after previously working at WJAC-TV and the Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown, and The Derrick in Oil City. A native of Fryburg, Pa., he is a graduate of North Clarion High School and the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, where he earned a degree in journalism. He has covered the Pittsburgh Steelers since joining the Observer-Reporter in 1993, and also serves as the outdoors editor. He also is a radio host for Pittsburgh’s ESPN 970-AM, and serves as administrative adviser for the Red & Black, Washington & Jefferson College’s student newspaper.

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