Steelers reportedly sign former Rams LB Mark Barron to 2-year contract
The Pittsburgh Steelers continued their trek into free agency Sunday by signing linebacker Mark Barron to a two-year, $12 million contract, according to multiple national reports.
NFL Network reported Barron’s deal includes a $5.75 million signing bonus. ESPN first reported the signing.
Barron joins cornerback Steven Nelson and wide receiver Donte Moncrief as free-agent additions by the Steelers.
Barron, 29, became a free agent when the Los Angeles Rams released him March 5. He completed three years of a five-year, $45 million contract with the Rams, who released him rather than pay a $3 million roster bonus last week.
He is a former first-round draft pick who began his career as a strong safety. By adding Barron, the Steelers likely will cut ties with veteran safety Morgan Burnett, who did not like his role as a hybrid linebacker last year and asked in January to be released. Barron also could replace Jon Bostic at inside linebacker.
After missing the first four games last season with an ankle injury, Barron started 12 games for the Rams and had 60 tackles, one sack and one pass defensed.
Barron was selected with the No. 7 overall pick in 2012 by Tampa Bay. In his third season with the Buccaneers, he was traded to the Rams. He was a full-time starter with the Rams for four seasons until he was released. He had 116 total tackles in ’15 and 118 in ’16.
Burnett struggled in his role last season when he played in 11 games and made just two starts while battling injuries. Burnett lost the starting strong safety job to rookie Terrell Edmunds and had 30 tackles and six passes defensed while mostly playing in subpackages. He has two years remaining on a three-year, $14.3 million deal he signed last March.
The Steelers can save $3.6 million on their salary cap by releasing Burnett. If they release him with a post-June 1 designation, they can save $5.05 million.
If the Steelers decide to release Bostic, they would save $1.8 million against their salary cap. Bostic started 14 games last season and had 73 tackles and 21⁄2 sacks. His playing time dwindled late in the season, and he played just six snaps on defense in the season finale against Cincinnati.
The Steelers still are expected to target an inside linebacker with their first pick, No. 20 overall, in the April draft. LSU’s Devin White and Michigan’s Devin Bush are the two top targets. General manager Kevin Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin scouted Bush on Friday at Michigan’s pro day.
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .