So, the Steelers have realized that no amount of hope and change can cure what ails their secondary. It's a combination of a poor pass rush, injuries to star players, aging + regression to the mean, and, in my opinion, poor coverage schemes. Regardless, it's not going to be something that can be completely fixed in one draft.
So why not take a chance on the NFL equivalent of a freebie?
Pacman Jones is 26. He's not in jail. He's not suspended. He's never been formally charged with a single crime. He can play tomorrow. He'll come at the league minimum. He can be cut in 6 minutes. It will cost NFL peanuts to find out if he can still play. And if he can still play? He can be a star. And a steal, at that. At one point, Pacman Jones was an absolute lockdown corner at the NFL level. Three years ago, he singlehandedly won at least two games for Tennessee through interceptions and kick returns...and if you don't believe me, you can ask Eli Manning. There have been rumblings that Stefan Logan is a waste of a roster spot because he isn't doing enough in the return game to justify the fact that he is taking the roster spot of a potential positional player. I don't buy that, because I don't see this team being one shoddy backup away from competence.
But Pacman may not be that shoddy backup.
"But why did Tennessee cut him if he was so amazing, Vern?"
Simple. Pacman was the number 6 pick overall in the '06 draft, meaning he was carrying with him a very large cap number. He had just been arrested about 5 times and was looking at a yearlong suspension from Sheriff Goodell, who was just getting into his phase where he was overcompensating for something with huge suspensions. The Titans could not afford to pay this guy all that money while he was suspended and were just simply getting tired of his act. And I don't blame them...he was terrible there. He was getting arrested almost bi-weekly. But that was 2006 and I couldn't care less about it at this point.
"Ok...why did Dallas cut him if he was so good, then?"
I don't know. I can't tell you that. I'm thinking that Jerry Jones simply felt betrayed and that combined with the fact that the Cowboys had a bunch of young corners that they were thrilled with left him to choose cutting PMJ. By many accounts, Pacman was their best corner last year. I don't know why he was cut. Nor do I care at this point.
"But the Steelers just don't sign this type of player, Vern."
Don't kid yourself. James Harrison and Santonio Holmes, both heroes of last year's Super Bowl, also have woman-beating in common. I'm not going to count Holmes' weed infraction, because that's about as minor as they come and probably prevalent in the NFL. And maybe even society, for that matter. But still, he's been accused of woman-beating a few times. It was enough to get Cedrick Wilson cut, but not the superstars! We've also got a QB who is by all accounts an egomaniacal prick, a teflon douche at WR by the name of Hines Ward who is a fan favorite regardless of how much douche he empties out of his bag, and a kicker who assaults police officers. I don't care if they were already part of the family or not...what they all have in common with Pacman is the fact that they are good football players.
Pacman Jones can come in tomorrow at the league minimum, thankful for a chance to get back in the NFL. And he can potentially play the cornerback position at an elite level, something that this team needs badly. And if he can't? If he's completely lost it? Well, then you cut him and take a relatively small loss. No big deal. Pros greatly outweigh the cons.
"Vern...we don't want Pacman ruining the team chemistry."
Great. Neither do I. And he most likely won't, because he's never been a problem on the field. He has off-field problems, sure. But I don't care about that. By all accounts, Pacman is a diligent worker and a guy who plays his heart out and just wants to win football games. His teammates love that. He's not T.O., a guy with a squeaky-clean image off the field but a terrible one on the field, which I will argue is much, much worse. Pacman will not lead the Steeler players into lives of crime. He'll show them how to play corner and he might make it rain a few times as well. And if he kills a guy? Great. You can cut him.
I can't see any reason for Pacman Jones being out of football. I believe the same about Matt Jones. These guys are low-risk high-reward guys and in today's salary-capped NFL, that's how you get the edge you need.
The Steelers are simply not in a position to be perfect role-models right now. No one cares how nice your players are when they finish 8-8.