ORLANDO, Fla.—Don’t think those six Lombardi Trophies the Steelers proudly display at their South Side offices aren’t a powerful selling tool to prospective free agents.
It’s one reason the Steelers keep them under glass, properly lighted and lined up just right in an impressive display case, where all of their coaches, players and staff must walk by them on a daily basis.
New Steelers wide receiver Lance Moore said after signing a two-year contract last week that seeing those six NFL championship trophies up close helped clinch the deal. After all, the Steelers can display more such trophies than any NFL franchise.
Coach Mike Tomlin merely smiled when told of Moore’s comments.
“Man, that’s a strong selling point every day,” Tomlin said Tuesday at the annual NFL meetings. “I walk past them every day when I come to work and appropriately so. It provides clarity for us in terms of what it is we’re doing and it’s a motivator.”
Especially given the Steelers went to three Super Bowls in six seasons from 2005-10, winning two of them, but they haven’t won a playoff games in the past three seasons and sat out the playoffs in 2012 and 2013.
So what kind of sales pitch does Tomlin give to free agents such as Moore, especially those who have played previously on winning teams?
“We just told him the truth, and that’s what we tell all free agents: Who we are, how we do business and how we potentially see them fitting,” Tomlin said. “I think it fell in line with some of the things he wants to do as a professional. I think it was a natural thing.”
Tomlin called the 31-year-old Moore an experienced, proven and productive veteran player who should develop the same chemistry with Ben Roethlisberger than he did with Drew Brees in New Orleans. Moore was a 1,000-yard receiver with the Saints only two seasons ago, and he has 38 career touchdown passes.
While Tomlin is encouraged to have replaced slot receiver Jerricho Cotchery with Moore, he thinks having a healthy Markus Wheaton will help make up for the loss of wide receivers Cotchery and Emmanuel Sanders in free agency.
Wheaton, arguably the most impressive rookie during training camp last summer, ended up catching only six passes all season as he twice broke fingers, requiring both in-season and offseason surgery.
If he can stay healthy, Wheaton’s snap counts should go up significantly – and so should his importance in the offense.
“He has to stay healthy,” Tomlin said. “It’s tough to play wide receiver with broken fingers. I’ve been pleased with his approach to the game and how he works — he’s an intelligent young man, very capable and willing. I look forward to him taking a significant step for us, and we need him to.”