Barlow to leave Jets after reaching deal with Steelers

Updated: May 10, 2007, 5:42 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Kevan Barlow
Barlow

Still seeking to fill the void they experienced last season when the retirement of Jerome Bettis left the offense without a power-type tailback, the Pittsburgh Steelers have reached agreement with free agent Kevan Barlow on a one-year contract.

Financial details of the agreement, which has been rumored for the past several days, were not immediately available.

A Pittsburgh native who attended that city's Peabody High School and then starred at the University of Pittsburgh, the six-year veteran signed the deal Thursday. He will be on the field Friday morning for the team's first mandatory minicamp under new coach Mike Tomlin.

Barlow, who grew up idolizing Steelers Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris, met with Pittsburgh officials last week. He also generated interest from several other teams, including the Indianapolis Colts, after he was released by the New York Jets early in the spring.

In Pittsburgh, it's expected that Barlow will compete with Najeh Davenport for the No. 2 tailback job behind Willie Parker. The coaching staff wants to reduce the workload for Parker, a speedy but undersized tailback who logged a career-high 337 rushes in 2006. Davenport carried just 60 times as Parker's backup in 2006; third-down tailback Verron Haynes, who might still be in camp with Pittsburgh if he can successfully rehabilitate his surgically repaired knee, had only 15 carries.

Parker rushed for 1,494 yards and 13 touchdowns, but the consensus is that he might be even more productive with a little more rest.

Plus, the Steelers hope that either Barlow or Davenport can serve as a complement to Parker and be the kind of late-game "closer" that Bettis was in the waning stages of his career.

Barlow, 28, was a third-round pick of San Francisco in 2001 and played five seasons with the 49ers before being traded to the Jets last summer for a fourth-round draft choice. In his first three seasons, he posted an impressive 4.7-yard average, mostly as a backup to then-49ers star Garrison Hearst. In 2003, his third season in the league, Barlow rushed for a career-high 1,024 yards and averaged 5.1 yards, despite starting only four games.

Over the past three seasons, though, Barlow's productivity has waned. In that stretch, he has averaged only 3.2 yards per carry and his rushing yards have declined every season since he posted his 1,000-yard campaign in 2003.

Presented an opportunity to regain his status as a starting-caliber back with the Jets in 2006, Barlow had a career-low 370 rushing yards.

For his career, Barlow has carried 1,022 times for 3,984 yards and 30 touchdowns. He also has 144 receptions for 1,164 yards and three scores. Barlow has appeared in 84 games and started in 33 of them.

In another move, the Steelers released Richard Seigler, a linebacker who spent parts of the last two seasons on their practice squad.

Seigler was a fourth-round draft choice by San Francisco in 2004 and played in seven games that season, making seven tackles. He was cut by Pittsburgh during training camp last season, but was added to the practice squad for the final two games of the season.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.