So while we wait for the whole Velvet Elvis incident to unravel (the alleged assault didn't even take place at the Velvet Elvis, but I like the name of the club, so that's what I'm calling it), the Steelers have made some big moves in the past few days.
First, they signed Will Allen and Arnez Battle each to three year contracts, and then later in the day, signed Ryan Clark and Antwaan Randle-El. I like the signings of Battle and Allen, who have a good reputation as solid special teams players; if there was one thing more disappointing than the secondary last year, it was the special teams.
Allen will also be the primary backup safety, which pushes Ryan Mundy down the line (as he should be) and also probably spells the end to the Tyrone Carter era. I loved Ty Carter not only because of his kid's names (Tyrone Jr., Tyron, Tristan, twins Tyshantay and Ty, and his one daughter Tyra; God help her first boyfriend) but also the story of his brother Tank. He played hard and reckless, but he'll be 34 next season and already looked 38 this past season. Tyanks for the memories, buddy.
I also like the signing of Randle El, who has actually been a fairly serviceable WR with the Redskins since he left the Steelers, but like the idiots they are, the 'skins signed him to be a top two wide receiver, which he clearly is not. I still can't find out how much money the Steelers will be giving the El, but I doubt it's all that much. This of course probably means the end of the Limas Sweed era in Pittsburgh; until it happens, I'm not going to write his obit, but most of you who know me also know that I have a soft spot for Limey (and I think there are some personal issues we don't know about as well).
The only signing I don't like is Ryan Clark to four years at $14 million. That's a lot of money to give a guy who is already 30, plays a style that certainly has aged him more than others, looked pretty bad last year, and is fairly dependent on Polamalu being on the field as well. Despite his absurd letter to the fans this past season, Clark has been a model citizen since he came to the Steelers and is a pretty sharp guy (something that we must take into account since Milledgeville). I hope he proves me wrong, and it's not just this contract that bugs me, it's the contracts the Steelers have continued to hand out to aging veterans that concerns me (I'm looking at you, James Harrison).
The Steelers also signed former Bills' offensive tackle Jonathan Scott, which seems like pretty good insurance on the ends, and also leads me to think the Steelers will go with a more interior lineman in the draft (I guess that only means offensive guard).
Another thing to think about is that all of these signings have some connection to the organization and current/new coaches; Battle worked with new special teams coordinator Al Everest in San Fran, Allen worked with Tomlin in Tampa Bay, and Scott worked with new O-line coordinator Sean Kugler in Buffalo. Presumably, that can only be a good thing.
More importantly, you can dust off that old '05 Randle El jersey.