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A busy first week of free agency

Posted Mar 14, 2014

The first week of free agency is coming to a close and it's been a busy one.

Keeping their own: Re-signing their own free agents has always been a priority for the Steelers and they did so with three this week: safety Will Allen, offensive lineman Cody Wallace and long snapper Greg Warren.

Allen, who signed a one-year contract, spent the 2010-12 seasons with the Steelers before signing with the Dallas Cowboys as a free agent last year. He was waived by the Cowboys during the 2013 season, and returned to the Steelers during week six. Allen finished the 2013 season with 42 tackles.

Wallace signed a three-year contract with the Steelers, giving the team depth on the offensive line. Wallace played in nine games in 2013, both at guard and center. He made his first career start week 14 against Miami, filling in at center for injured Fernando Velasco, and remained there for the rest of the season.

“We love the city and the fans,” said Wallace. “I really enjoy Coach (Mike) Tomlin and the way he treats the guys and his approach to the game. The Rooneys really care about the team and you see them around the building all of the time. It’s one of the iconic teams in all of sports. It’s was awesome to have an opportunity to come back here.”

Warren, who also signed a one-year contract, signed with the Steelers as a rookie free agent in 2005 and has been with the team for his entire career, playing in 133 regular season games and nine postseason games.

“To be able to spend my entire career with one of the best organizations in professional sports is special,” said Warren. “The ownership, the coaching staff, the players, everyone in the organization makes you feel like you have family and friends there. You feel like you belong and are part of something special. It’s something you can’t just find anywhere and guys should appreciate it when we get the opportunity.”

Safety net: The Steelers signed free agent safety Mike Mitchell, who played for the Carolina Panthers in 2013 and was with the Oakland Raiders the first four years of his NFL career.

“This is definitely a life-changing experience,” said Mitchell. “This is one of the best opportunities to play for one of the most storied franchises in all of sports, but definitely in the game of professional football.  

Just the opportunity to play for such a storied franchise. Coming here is just the cream of the crop. It’s top-notch. It’s the best of the best. This program, this is the best. This is the top. For them to want me and want to bring me in here and let me play for their franchise, I felt like I wanted it more than they did, and it’s a fantastic organization to be playing for.”

Taylor made for Steelers: Cornerback Ike Taylor, entering the last year of his contract, agreed to a pay cut to remain with the team and finish out his career in Pittsburgh.

“It would have killed me not to stay here,” said Taylor. “Soulfully it would have killed me. By any means I wanted it done.

“Taking a pay cut wasn’t an issue. Towards the end of the contract you are going to get released or asked to take a pay cut.  I look it as I have been paid enough money for them to ask me for a pay cut. Being where I am, I feel like the money part wasn’t an issue.”

Saying goodbye: Prior to the 4 p.m. start of free agency on Tuesday the Steelers released linebacker LaMarr Woodley, with a post-June 1 designation. Woodley has since signed a two-year contract with the Oakland Raiders.

Woodley was the team’s second-round draft pick in 2007 and started 81 games. He finished his Steelers’ career with 355 tackles and 57 sacks, which is seventh in team history.

Woodley was hampered by injuries in 2013, missing five games and finishing the season on the reserve/injured list with a calf injury.

Headed elsewhere: Among the players the Steelers lost in free agency are running back Jonathan Dwyer, defensive end Ziggy Hood, tight end/fullback David Johnson, and defensive end Al Woods.

Dwyer, who had 49 carries for 197 yards and no touchdowns last year, signed a one-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals.   

Hood, the Steelers first-round draft pick in 2009, signed a reported four-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Johnson, who missed the 2012 season and the majority of the 2013 season injured, signed a two-year deal with the San Diego Chargers.   

Woods, who had 20 tackles and two sacks in 16 games in 2013, signed a multi-year deal with the Tennessee Titans.   

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