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Breakfast with Benz

Tim Benz: Steelers still quiet in free agency, but other moves impact them

| Tuesday, March 13, 2018, 10:42 p.m.
Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins celebrates after teammate running back Rob Kelley #32 (not pictured) scores a fourth quarter touchdown against the Green Bay Packers at FedExField on November 20, 2016 in Landover, Maryland.
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Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins celebrates after teammate running back Rob Kelley #32 (not pictured) scores a fourth quarter touchdown against the Green Bay Packers at FedExField on November 20, 2016 in Landover, Maryland.

Paul Simon recently announced that Pittsburgh would be a stop on his "Homeward Bound" farewell tour.

Meanwhile, the usual "Sounds of Silence" tour is back in Pittsburgh again to start NFL free agency.

That's nothing new. The Steelers are rarely players in the free agent market anyway. So to see them quiet opening this shopping period is no surprise, especially given their cap situation with the uncertainty of Le'Veon Bell's franchise tag looming.

Instead today, let's take a look at some of the NFL free agent activity so far that took place during — and just before — the legal tampering period, with lots of players expected to make official moves Wednesday.

And of course let's look through the lenses of our Black and Gold glasses that we love to wear.

Kirk Cousins breaks the bank in Minnesota: I always thought that Minnesota was the best destination for Cousins. He's going to a 13-3 team with two really good wide receivers. The Vikings have the best defense in football, a good coach and an indoor stadium.

What else needs to be said?

Reports state that Cousins will have a fully guaranteed contract in the range of $28 million per season.

According to Spotrac.com, that's $5 million more than what Ben Roethlisberger's contract will be against the cap if it stays as-is the next two years. One has to wonder how that will play into Roethlisberger's thinking if a new contract extension is put together this offseason as many are anticipating.

The Browns have been active: I don't know how smart they have been. But they have been active.

I like the Jarvis Landry trade. A lot.

They probably overpaid for Steelers tackle Chris Hubbard, giving him $37.5 million with $18 million guaranteed. He will be an upgrade along the offensive line, though, and it makes his expected departure from the Steelers pinch a little more.

But the other ones fail to move the needle for me. Tyrod Taylor feels like more of the same at QB for the Browns. At his best, Taylor is nothing more than middle of the pack.

And he's not always at his best.

As for DeShone Kizer to Green Bay for Damarious Randall? You're just giving away someone who was no longer in your plans for a DB who has battled injury and attitude problems.

Meanwhile, getting a third-round pick for Danny Shelton may seem like a win now because he underachieved. Let's see what we think when Bill Belichick presses whatever buttons he usually presses to get something out of guys like him.

Credit the Browns for doing lots of things in an effort to get better. I just doubt the moves aside from Landry will really accomplish that goal.

Let's talk about the Patriots: Because we always have to talk about the Patriots. They are the elephant in the ro…

No, let's not go down that path again.

As mentioned above, the Shelton trade feels like a typical Patriots move. They'll take another team's trash and make him their treasure. He'll become the new Alan Branch there.

Likely losing Danny Amendola in-division to Miami is a big deal, though. He steadily turned into a great fit in that Patriots offense. He is often very good in the playoffs. And the team needs to see how Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan return from various injuries last season.

Plus Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead may be gone in free agency, too. That's 62 catches out of the backfield.

In fact, multiple reports say both Lewis and cornerback Malcolm Butler may be heading to Tennessee.

Also, word is they may bring back James Harrison. So that'll be fun when they play the Steelers this year.

Jacksonville's moves are curious: If I was a Jacksonville fan, I would've preferred to see them keep Allen Robinson.

I'd be happy they got a good offensive lineman in Andrew Norwell. But $13.3 million and $30 million guaranteed for a guard? I wonder what Le'Veon Bell thought when he saw that number.

Better asked, I wonder Kevin Colbert thought.

Paul Posluszny retired, too. Congratulations to the Hopewell/Penn State product on an 11-year Pro Bowl career.

Drew Brees is staying in New Orleans: No surprise there. He'll make $25 million guaranteed. That means the Steelers will have to play against him when they visit the Saints this year.

In his last two games against the Steelers, Drew Brees has won both, putting up 55 points, 562 yards, seven touchdowns and just one interception in the process.

The Chiefs made some good moves: Kansas City is using their cap space after trading Alex Smith. Sammy Watkins is a potential weapon for new quarterback Pat Mahomes. I would've loved to see Anthony Hitchens in Pittsburgh. That couldn't have occurred for cap reasons. He's going to make more in base salary than Dont'a Hightower.

Lawrence Timmons is available: The Dolphins released Timmons. The Steelers need an inside linebacker. The Steelers brought back Larry Foote at that spot in 2010. That decision worked out OK. This would be a similar move if they resign him. But it wouldn't solve their problems at the position.

A young, athletic, coverage-oriented inside 'backer early in the draft would still be a top priority.

Tim Benz hosts the Steelers pregame show on WDVE and ESPN Pittsburgh. He is a regular host/contributor on KDKA-TV and 105.9 FM.

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