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March 9, 2004
Steelers Draw a Duce

The Pittsburgh Steelers, who underperformed their way to an out-of-the-playoffs finish last season, made a huge step forward in kick-starting their moribund offense by signing former Eagles running back Duce Staley this afternoon:

Free-agent running back Duce Staley will continue to play his football in the state of Pennsylvania, but to do so, he's going to have to take the turnpike west to Pittsburgh. Staley, the former Eagle, has agreed to a five-year, $14 million contract with the Steelers, agent Leigh Steinberg said Tuesday night.

One of the most sought-after rushers in the free-agent marketplace, Staley will receive a $4 million signing bonus as part of the deal.

The Steelers plan on releasing last season's feature running back, Amos Zereoue, who has talent but for some reason could never catch fire in Pittsburgh. They intend on teaming up the Duce with the Bus, Jerome Bettis, who will continue his amazing career as a specialty back in support of Staley. Pittsburgh outbid Detroit and Philadelphia in landing the A-list free agent.

How will this work out for the Steelers against tough division rivals Baltimore, Cincinatti, and Cleveland? Hard to say, although the lack of an effective running game last season put too much pressure on Tommy Maddox, who really hasn't been the same since he was temporarily paralyzed two seasons ago. (Who could blame him?) It's the best move so far among the four teams; the Browns only managed to get Jeff Garcia, who spent his career in Frisco reminding the Bay City how great Steve Young really was.

Don't tell Hugh ... but the Steelers may be waving those Terrible Towels well into next January.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 9, 2004 9:20 PM

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