Steelers get value with Blount signing

PITTSBURGH -- The team with the least amount of salary cap continues to find ways to plug holes on its roster.

The Pittsburgh Steelers added a thumper to their backfield on Friday when they signed former Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount to a two-year contract.

Blount, just like the signing of wide receiver Lance Moore a week ago, gives the Steelers a proven NFL player and one who adds depth to a position that had been conspicuously lacking it.

That the Steelers have remained active in free agency despite hovering so close to the spending ceiling -- they were roughly $1 million under the cap prior to the Blount signing -- is not a surprise.

Remember, this is the organization that was supposedly in the salary cap equivalent of Leavenworth only a month ago. The Steelers have since put on another clinic in managing the cap, as they have shed salary without compromising the core of the team.

They created enough room under the cap to sign starting safety Mike Mitchell, add depth along their offensive line, as well as other positions, and compensate for the loss of Jerricho Cotchery by signing Moore.

Blount, the Steelers’ latest addition, is 27, has rushed for more than 2,000 yards and averaged 4.7 yards per carry in four NFL seasons.

Blount was one of the better running backs at the end of last season.

Just ask the Colts.

Blount steamrolled them in the AFC playoffs in January, rushing for 166 yards and four touchdowns in a 43-22 Patriots win.

The 6-foot, 250-pounder is cut in the mold of a Steelers running back, and fans who embraced a player nicknamed “The Bus” will be delighted to know that Blount’s moniker is “The Winnebago.”

That is not to say fans should expect a Jerome Bettis redux in Blount.

The Steelers are committed to Le'Veon Bell as their feature back -- as they should be -- and the former second-round draft pick will get the majority of the carries assuming he builds on a stellar rookie campaign.

Blount does provide the Steelers much-needed insurance behind Bell.

Just as significant, he gives them options.

With another ball-carrier who packs a punch, the Steelers can reduce some of the wear and tear on Bell by incorporating Blount into the running game.

That could prolong Bell’s career, and in the short-term it would allow the Steelers to wear down defenses by hammering them with two big running backs.

Whatever role Blount assumes, the Steelers improved by signing him.

And they continue to improve themselves despite limited room under the salary cap.