Steelers lose Hood, last member of 2009 draft class

March 13, 2014
Former Steelers No. 1 draft pick Ziggy Hood, right, will be playing for Jacksonville next season. - Brook Ward / For the Observer-Reporter Order a Print

PITTSBURGH – As the Steelers introduced new starting free safety Mike Mitchell to the media, another former starter was on his way out the door.

Defensive end Ziggy Hood, the Steelers’ 2009 No. 1 draft pick, signed a four-year, $16-million deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars Thursday, making him the fourth free-agent loss for the team in a 24-hour period.

Running back Jonathan Dwyer signed with Arizona late Wednesday night, tight end David Johnson left for San Diego and defensive lineman Al Woods was lured away by Tennessee.

Hood, the 32nd pick of the 2009 draft, did not miss a game for the Steelers in five seasons, but did lose his starting job to 2011 first-round pick Cameron Heyward early last season.

Hood remained in the defensive line rotation and finished the season with 39 tackles and three sacks.

With Hood gone, the Steelers do no have a player remaining on the roster from their 2009 draft, though guard Kraig Urbik, wide receiver Mike Wallace, cornerback Keenan Lewis, running back Frank Summers, center A.Q. Shipley and Johnson all remain in the NFL.

With Hood and Woods, who was given a two-year, $5-million deal by Tennessee Wednesday night, gone, the Steelers have lost two of their top five defensive linemen from 2013. Defensive end Brett Keisel, 35, also is a free agent, leaving Heyward and nose tackle Steve McLendon as the only linemen on the roster with significant NFL experience.

The Steelers will meet with Buffalo Bills free-agent defensive lineman Alex Carrington today.

Carrington, 26, started the first three games of 2013 for the Bills but suffered a torn quadriceps muscle in a Week 3 loss to the New York Jets that ended his season.

Carrington (6-5, 301) was a third-round draft pick of the Bills in 2010 out of Arkansas State.

Also visiting today will be San Diego nose tackle Cam Thomas (6-3, 330).

Thomas, 27, appeared in 16 games for the Chargers last year, making 10 starts. He had 23 tackles and an interception.

If Carrington or Thomas are signed, they will be the second free agent from another team added by the Steelers this week.

Mitchell, who joined Arizona linebacker Karlos Dansby and Tampa Bay linebacker Lavonte David as the only players in the NFL last season with both four sacks and four interceptions, was signed Tuesday to a five-year, $25-million deal.

“My agent was fielding phone calls … As soon as I heard Steelers, being a Bengals fan as a kid, you’re afraid of them,” said Mitchell, who grew up just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati in Kentucky.

“I jumped at the opportunity.”

Mitchell will slide into the lineup in place of free agent Ryan Clark, who will not be re-signed by the Steelers. Mitchell is looking forward to working with Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu.

“Playing with him is going to be a great experience,” said Mitchell, who played his first four seasons in Oakland before joining Carolina last year. “In Oakland, I didn’t have an older player to learn from, and now I’m going to be playing with the greatest safety to ever play the game.

“I don’t know if I’ll be jumping over the line of scrimmage to make plays, but, hopefully, I can learn something.”

Mitchell, a second-round pick of the Raiders in 2009, was signed by the Steelers, while Pittsburgh’s 2007 second-round pick, linebacker LaMarr Woodley, signed a two-year deal with Oakland Thursday.

Woodley, released by the Steelers as a post-June 1 cut Tuesday in a salary cap-related move, received a deal that will pay him $12 million.

Woodley, who had 57 career regular-season sacks for the Steelers, was to count $13.59 million against Pittsburgh’s salary cap this season.

Meanwhile, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who has already visited Jacksonville and Tampa Bay, will be in Kansas City today to meet with the Chiefs.

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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