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NFL Free Agency: Steelers Sign Chris Hoke To One-Year Deal

The Pittsburgh Steelers signed Chris Hoke to a one-year contract today, ensuring that the 6-2, 305 nose tackle will return as Casey Hampton's [primary backup for at least one more season.

Hoke, a ten-year NFL veteran, has been with the team since the Steelers signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2001. He has proven to be a valuable depth player, as Hampton, the lynch pin of Pittsburgh's 3-4 defensive front, has missed six starts in the last five seasons. 

It's possible that third-year man Ziggy Hood (6-3, 300 lbs.) could line up at nose tackle if necessary, but that's no sure thing. Reacquiring Hoke, who the Steelers know can get the job done, is a savvy move to enhance the Steelers' depth along the defensive line. With Hoke on the roster, Hood could stay in the defensive end rotation in the event of a Hampton injury, while Hoke lined up over center. (It remains to be seen, however, how exactly the rotation will work out among the injury-prone Aaron Smith, the aging Brett Keisel, and youngsters like Hood and rookie first-rounder Cameron Heyward on the outside.)

In any case, it's likely that this will be the last season in Pittsburgh for Hoke, who turned 35 in April -- if the one-year deal is any indication.

It's just business as usual for the Steelers. They're having a productive, if unflashy offseason, securing the services of their own guys as necessary. Now let's see about restructuring LaMarr Woodley's contract for the long-term, shall we?

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.