CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A preseason finale that featured plenty of playing time by the backups was spiced up by the presence of new acquisitions Joe Haden and Vance McDonald on the Steelers sideline Thursday night.
Haden didn't suit up — he hasn't yet been assigned a uniform number — one day after signing a three-year, $27 million contract. Two days after being acquired in a trade,<strong>Authentic Andrew Luck Jersey</strong>, McDonald was on the field for a few snaps as the Steelers wrapped up preseason play against the Carolina Panthers.
The acquisitions capped a busy few days for general manager Kevin Colbert,<strong>Authentic T.Y. Hilton Jersey</strong>, who received a two-year contract extension Thursday morning.
Haden was signed to join second-year cornerback Artie Burns in the Steelers defensive backfield. McDonald could supplant Jesse James as the starting tight end.
Colbert, though,<strong>Womens Vontae Davis Jersey</strong>, said the moves shouldn't be viewed as a slight at other cornerbacks and tight ends on the Steelers roster.
“If we started the season without these two guys,<strong>Authentic Quincy Wilson Jersey</strong>,” Colbert said. “They are two quality guys, we were going to start the season without them, two quality starters. You're negligent if you don't look into it.”
Colbert said the Steelers didn't have advance notice Haden would become available and didn't try to swing a trade before the Browns cut ties with the seven-year veteran.
“We're always watching the waiver wire and terminations this time of year, but not too often. Joe Haden is a quality starting player and,” Colbert said. “There are guys like this that get cut, fortunately, he was available for us.”
Making a big splash late in the preseason is unusual for the Steelers, particularly in the secondary. Then again, who have acquired minor pieces in recent seasonss, high-profile players such as Haden aren't typically hitting the open market in late August.
“Usually,<strong>Womens Andrew Luck Jersey</strong>,” Colbert said. “Usually,<strong>Authentic Vontae Davis Jersey</strong>,<strong>Authentic Malik Hooker Jersey</strong>, starter-capable guys don't get released this time of year,<strong>Womens Quincy Wilson Jersey</strong>, it's younger kids who aren't quite ready to play or older veterans on the downside of things. We didn't view him in that manner at all. We think he's a young, capable starter who can help us win.”
Unlike Haden, McDonald was in uniform against the Panthers. He will wear No. 89.
“Vance has size,<strong>Womens Malik Hooker Jersey</strong>,” Colbert said. “He shows up as a blocker, <strong>Womens T.Y. Hilton Jersey</strong>,speed and athleticism, and he shows up as a receiver.”
Colbert might not be done negotiating deals, although any moves will be contingent on the makeup of the 53-man roster that must be set at 4 p.m. Saturday.
The Steelers would like to sign defensive end Stephon Tuitt to a long-term deal.
Factoring in a $2.6 million salary cap hit for McDonald and $3.2 million for Haden this season, the Steelers remain about $7 million under the cap. Colbert also prefers to keep $3 million in cap space available.
“We'll see how this shakes out (against the Panthers) and what our final 53 are,” Colbert said. “Adding these two guys this late in the process can change our thinking.”
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