PITTSBURGH -- Dont'a Hightower spent more than six hours with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Tuesday. While cornerback Davon House was roaming the halls of the team's UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, talking with his agent about a contract offer from the Green Bay Packers, Hightower was mostly out of sight until escorted out of the building and into a luxury sedan, on his way to Pittsburgh International Airport.
By all accounts, Hightower did get on that plane, which, according to NFL Network, means any deals are off.
Now, much of the team brass is off to the NFL draft pro day circuit. The Steelers aren't out of it with Hightower. In fact, the team believed it was pretty close to securing a deal with him during his visit. One source classified the process as "very early" as of Tuesday afternoon, signaling more time to negotiate. But the Jets can throw big money around, and the Patriots are the Patriots.
As it stands, the Steelers have lost two rotational players (Markus Wheaton to Chicago, Jarvis Jones to Arizona) and one longtime productive starter (Lawrence Timmons to Miami). They haven't added any outside pieces to fill those voids.
Eight draft picks can handle most of that. But after four in-house free agent visits in two days, it's clear the Steelers, at the least, eye supplemental roster help.
Hightower is the big -- and possibly -- only swing Pittsburgh will take. In past years, the team gave big-money contracts to safety Mike Mitchell and Ladarius Green to help offset the eventual losses of fixtures Troy Polamalu and Heath Miller. Timmons probably warrants similar consideration, even though the team believes Vince Williams can man the inside linebacker job if necessary.
But Ryan Shazier and Hightower in the middle? That would be a vicious AFC North pairing. To make that happen, Pittsburgh has today for one last push.
Regardless, expect the Steelers to continue to seek cornerback help while possibly adding a receiver such as speedster Justin Hunter, who visited Pittsburgh on Monday, or a defensive lineman.