Traditionally, the Steelers don't use free agency to build their team. Most of the free agents they've signed in recent seasons have been role players. However, they have had some impact free agents. There still might be just four Lombardi Trophies in Pittsburgh if it weren't for players picked up in free agency.
This list only includes players signed since unrestricted free agency in its current form began in 1993. Jerome Bettis was acquired in a draft-day trade in 1996, so he was not a free agent. Tommy Maddox doesn't qualify for this list because he was out of football for six years before he came to the Steelers in 2001. The Steelers didn't get him through the free-agency system that was instituted in 1993.
As with any Steelers best-of list, Super Bowl rings carry a lot of weight. We look at overall productivity, but players who helped the Steelers win championships get the nod where there's a debate. Longevity is also a factor.
With the 2014 free-agency period just around the corner, here's a look back the 10 best free-agent acquisitions in Steelers history.
Pro Football Reference is used for statistics unless otherwise noted.