Opinion: Browns, Steelers join free-agency chaos after lockout

Michael Moses

The NFL is back – and my life is, too.

I was sitting in church at my cousin’s wedding when I received the ESPN text alert that the players and owners reportedly agreed to terms with the new collective bargaining agreement, and instantly I had the attention span of a five-year-old in Toys-R-Us (Lauren, congrats, I love ya, but come on — this is the NFL).

Since free agency has started, ESPN’s Adam Schefter has been tweeting more than breathing. Players are getting signed to new deals at an ungodly rate. Months of work and preparation is now crammed into a two-week period. Big-name players have switched squads, such as Chad Ochocinco (Cincinnati to New England), Reggie Bush (New Orleans to Miami), Nnamdi Asomugha (Oakland to Philadelphia) and Kevin Kolb (Philadelphia to Arizona). If someone were to write an NFL free agency roundup, it would have more chapters than “The Da Vinci Code.” With that said, let’s focus on our area — the rivals of all rivals — Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

Cleveland Browns

The Brownies haven’t made considerable moves thus far, but re-signing the face of the franchise and all-time scoring leader Phil Dawson was a must. Even though he’s just a “kicker,” can you think of another man taking his place? Me neither.

Cleveland did sign a pair of free agents worth mentioning. Former Green Bay Packers running back Brandon Jackson was signed to a two-year contract worth $4.5 million. Jackson was a key part in the Packers’ Super Bowl season, rushing for more than 700 yards while catching 43 passes. Jackson is a perfect player to spare Peyton Hillis. Colt McCoy will need a safety valve when the bruising tailback needs a breather, and Jackson is that man. Just ask Aaron Rodgers.

Former Kent State Golden Flash and New Orleans Saint Usama Young was signed to a three-year deal worth $6 million. Young, an athletic safety, will team up with second-year pro T.J. Ward to form an already improved secondary. With Joe Haden coming off a terrific rookie campaign, the pass defense should be a lot tougher for opponents.

Cornerback Eric Wright took his talents to Detroit, while the team terminated quarterback Jake Delhomme and linebacker Eric Alexander’s contracts.

Pittsburgh Steelers

While the Steelers still have a lot of work to do with the contracts of LaMarr Woodley (the team tagged him as the franchise player in February), they did sign their cornerback. Ike Taylor, a Steeler since they drafted him in 2003, will stay with the team and most likely end his career wearing black and gold. The new deal signed him until 2014.

The offensive line has been an issue for years and yet again is a priority during this year’s offseason. Coming off a season he lost due to a torn Achillies tendon, tackle Willie Colon agreed to a five-year, $29 million contract. Colon should boost the line’s performance this year. His injury before last season forced the Steelers to sign free agent Flozell Adams as his replacement. The team cut Adams on Friday.

Further structuring their offensive line, the Steelers signed offensive tackle Jonathan Scott. He will be the starting left tackle for this season. Cornerback Willie Gay agreed to a multi-year deal as well.

Pittsburgh released punter Daniel Sepulveda, offensive tackle Max Starks and wide receiver Antwaan Randle El.

Michael Moses is a senior communication studies major.

Contact him at [email protected].