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That's the reaction I had after reading the report that the journeyman WR met with the Steelers on Monday. The visit apparently went well enough for his agent to be optimistic about a deal being struck, and to be honest, I'm a little confused.

Frankly, Lelie's reputation has been nothing short of disappointing since entering the league as a first-round pick by Denver in 2002. What is a major red flag to me is the fact that he's played for four teams in four seasons, a one-and-done with the last three teams who've acquired him: Atlanta in 2006, San Francisco in 2007, and Oakland in 2008. And these were all bad teams. The '06 Falcons won seven games, the '07 49ers won five, and the '08 Raiders won five as well.

His receiving yardage has been in decline since 2004, from 1084 yards to 770 to 430 to 115, with a slight bump to 197 last season.

In addition to free-falling numbers, Lelie has exhibited a diva mentality at times, holding out after the Broncos had the nerve to attempt to upgrade their receiver position in 2006. After finally forcing a trade to Atlanta, Lelie gave up $982,000 as a result of holdout fines and prorated signing bonuses he was forced to repay.

I'll never forget the description John Clayton gave of Lelie at one of those ESPN 1250 Fantasy Football Camps in Pittsburgh a few years ago. He was quoting one of Lelie's coaches, and let's just say it wasn't a compliment. At all. In fact, it was enough to turn me off from Lelie all these years later.

Maybe one last change of scenery, and to a strong organization for once, will be what the doctor ordered for Lelie. Like incoming rookie Mike Wallace, he's got fantastic speed, which the Steelers are clearly prioritizing. And if it doesn't work, there's always the option of Gary Russell-ing him.

Steelers meet with free agent WR Lelie [Trib]

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Steve said...

As far as a quality player, he can't be any worse than Washington and his speed is an upside. Plus, if he becomes a problem at any point, Hines can spell things out to him in Black and Gold.

Who knows maybe Sweed will step up big this season and it won't even matter what Lelie brings. Wow, I can't believe I typed that sentence without laughing!

The Duke from Dukes Court said...

How many of those catches that Nate made last year has Lelie made in the NFL? Not many.

Nate wasn't anything special, but he was an above average 3rd receiver.