Mike Mitchell is the latest player to prove the fruition of a one-year contract.
After four forgettable seasons with the Oakland Raiders, the 26-year-old safety used a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers in 2013 to significantly boost his value, culminating in a new contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Mitchell took to Twitter to announce his new team and to say goodbye to the Panthers:
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
I would also like to thank Mr. Richardson and the entire Panthers organization for their support this season.— Mike Mitchell (@MikeMitchell34) March 11, 2014
I'll never forget it! I look forward to continuing my career in the black and Gold!— Mike Mitchell (@MikeMitchell34) March 11, 2014
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the terms of the deal:
Steelers gave former Panthers S Mike Mitchell a five-year, $25 million deal, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 11, 2014
Chicago Tribune reporter Brad Biggs first reported the news:
Mitchell, a former second-round pick out of Ohio, was tremendous with the Panthers last season. In 15 games (14 starts), he tallied 67 combined tackles, four interceptions, four sacks and two forced fumbles for one of the best defenses in the league. With an aggressive, physical style of play, he showcased an ability to deliver punishing hits on opponents.
"That was just me saying hello," he said, via USA Today's Tom Pelissero. "I think next year is when I'm really going to show up."
How would you grade this signing?
And that's music to the ears of the Steelers, who were in need of help in the secondary.
With stars like Jairus Byrd and T.J. Ward on the free-agent market, Mitchell wasn't regarded as the cream of the crop at his position, but he was seen as a valuable bargain buy and commanded interest from all over the league.
"I think the world of those guys," Mitchell said of Byrd and Ward. "My thing is I just want to say, 'Hey, guys, I'm in the competition, too, and I plan on being here and staying here.' "
According to Pro Football Focus, via PhillyMag.com's Sheil Kapadia, Mitchell missed 18 tackles last season, which was tied for most in the league among safeties. But that's a fixable a problem, and as NFL.com's Adam Caplan noted, teams around the league were more drawn to his amalgam of size and athletic ability:
On S Mike Mitchell, execs intrigued with speed/size ratio. He can be moved around a bit.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) March 10, 2014
Having a front seven like Carolina's certainly helped, but Mitchell, who has tantalizing measurables, showed immense improvement in 2013, and at just 26 years of age, there is still room to continue trending in that direction.
This won't go down as one of the most publicized signings of the offseason, but it's a savvy move that undoubtedly improves the defense of Mike Tomlin and his staff.