Free agency not too kind to Steelers

PITTSBURGH – You can’t get a U-Haul rental around here these days because they’re all being used by Pittsburgh Steelers leaving town.

Yet team president Art Rooney II said this is a fairly typical offseason with tough decisions. If he thinks this is just another installment of business as usual, he may be in for a surprise in September.

It’s possible the Steelers will have a great draft and they’ll make some free agent signings more exciting than Bruce Gradkowski. But you probably shouldn’t count on that. There still isn’t a lot of cap space.

After years of dodging the issue, the cap and some sub-standard drafts are catching up to the Steelers. That’s the way the NFL wants the system to work – not because of that super-secret plot against the Steelers, but because the league doesn’t want any franchise to dominate.

The Steelers were 8-8 last season, and they’ve gotten worse. Complain all you want about Mike Wallace’s immaturity. The point may be valid, but is the Steelers’ passing game better without him? Rashard Mendenhall had a lot of faults, but his departure leaves a major hole in the running attack.

If Rooney really believes what he said, he doesn’t understand football. If he knew it wasn’t true, then he’s misleading fans. GM Kevin Colbert has six months and a limited budget to plug a lot of leaks.

But there’s one bit of good news. The Steelers did re-sign long snapper Greg Warren. The way things have gone so far, it looks like they might be punting a lot.

Where’s Mike?

Speaking of the Steelers, why is Rooney speaking for the team instead of coach Mike Tomlin?

Rooney has the final say, but Tomlin hasn’t been available for questions since he had his season-ending session after the last regular-season game. Since then there have been changes in the staff and the roster, all of which have gone without Tomlin answering any questions.

Reclusive is not a good quality for an NFL coach.

It’s all good

The Pittsburgh Penguins have things going their way.

In addition to winning all their games in March, the Penguins got exactly what they wanted from the NHL’s realignment,

The Penguins get to keep their existing rivalries, and they’ll also add the Detroit Red Wings to their conference. Those games will instantly be a hit, based on the two Stanley Cup final series the Penguins played against the Red Wings.

Mehno can be reached at