NFL News : The best free agent signing the Steelers never made

The best free agent signing the Steelers never made

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It’s been said that sometimes the best deals are the ones that are not made, writes the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette.

Specifically, he's referring to this past March when the Steelers wooed free agent inside linebacker Dont’a Hightower. The free agent decided to re-sign with New England for a reported $11 million per season.

Pittsburgh looked internally and promoted Vince Williams to the vacancy created when Lawrence Timmons signed with Miami. 

"You may have seen Williams last Sunday in Detroit. That was him on the goal line, preventing the Lions from getting into the end zone a few times with some key tackles," wrote Bouchette.

“Oh, that was fun,” Williams said. “We really shouldn’t have let them down there, but that was good just in our response to the challenge that Mike Tomlin put out.

“If they run it, I’m right there, know what I mean?”

Williams has five tackles for losses, five quarterback hits and four sacks, which ties rookie T.J. Watt for second on the team behind Cam Heyward’s five. Williams also ranks second with 41 total tackles.

Not bad for a guy the Steelers initially wanted to make a backup by signing a big-ticket free agent, writes Bouchette.

Is Williams playing with a chip on his shoulder?

“I’m always [ticked] off,” Williams said. “But I don’t pay attention to stuff like that. I can only control what I can control.

“I mean, I don’t care, to be honest with you. I just want to play for the Steelers and win ball games, period, and whatever capacity that happens in, it happens. You can’t worry about what the front office thinks, what they do, anything they have going on; that’s none of my business. My job is to be here and be the best linebacker I can be.”

Bouchette also noted that had the Steelers signed Hightower, they wouldn't have had the cap space to sign Haden. He says their defense is better with Haden now. 

Jerry Olsavsky, who once played inside linebacker for the Steelers and now coaches the position, sounds happy with the way things turned out.

“Vince is right where we expected him to be. He does a lot of good things, he does some things he needs to get better at. To his credit, he’s always working to improve on his weaknesses. He’s aware of his weaknesses more than I am.”

Did the Steelers’ pursuit of Hightower fire up Williams?

“You don’t need to fire Vince up,’’ Olsavsky said. “He had a couple plays in the [Detroit] game that were really good. Two weeks ago in Kansas City I said, ‘That’s the best play of your career, now I need you to do that every time they run that play.’ ”

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