The Pittsburgh Steelers made an unexpected impact on the first day of NFL free agency, as free-agent safety Mike Mitchell announced Tuesday evening via his Twitter account that he has signed with the black and gold:
Pittsburgh!!!!!! First I have to thank God for this blessing and Mr. Rooney and the Steelers organization for such a great opportunity!
— Mike Mitchell (@MikeMitchell34) March 11, 2014
ESPN reporter Adam Schefter confirmed as much through an anonymous source, which also revealed that Mitchell was given a five-year, $25 million contract to man the free safety spot.
Mitchell, 26, was drafted in 2009 by the Raiders and played four seasons in Oakland before signing with Carolina as a free agent last offseason. The former Ohio University Bobcat made a career-best 50 tackles for the Panthers as part of a dominant defense that keyed an NFC South title.
He didn’t earn a starting spot until last fall, but Pro Football Focus ranked Mitchell as the 10th-best available safety on this year’s free-agent market. PFF rates Mitchell as especially efficient as a blitzer, competent in pass coverage and subpar against the rush.
In Pittsburgh, Mitchell will likely replace free agent Ryan Clark, a 34-year-old who has played the past eight seasons with the Steelers. Clark seemed to recognize the writing on the wall with a tweet of his own Tuesday night:
Congrats to Mike Mitchell and the Pittsburgh Steelers!! It has been a pleasure playing for 1 of the best organizations in sports!! God bless
Keep it here on City of Champions for more coverage of NFL free agency from a Pittsburgh perspective.