Steelers make free agency moves

The Steelers hosted two unrestricted free agents on Monday and both of them left the team's practice facility with a contract in hand.

Wide receiver Arnaz Battle and safety Will Allen both signed three-year deals to join the black and gold.

Battle, 6-1, 208 pounds, spent the last seven seasons with the San Francisco 49ers after they drafted him in the sixth round in 2003 out of Notre Dame.

"I felt it was a great fit for me, personally, to leave San Francisco and to come to a team that's competing for a Super Bowl every year," said Battle. "It fits my style of play, the physical, hard-nosed type football. This is just a great opportunity. It was just a good fit for me."

Battle had 178 receptions for 2,150 yards and 11 touchdowns with the 49ers, but saw his numbers drop with the addition of first-round draft pick Michael Crabtree last season.

"I think they were making a change as far as their direction," said Battle of the 49ers. "Isaac Bruce and myself were one of the two veterans and we were given different roles. They wanted to go with the younger receivers, Josh Morgan, Brandon Jones from Tennessee and they had Crabtree so it was just kind of going in a different direction.

"I know I can go out there and be very productive in a Steelers type of offense. My job is just to come in and work hard and prepare myself for any role that's given to me. My job is to go on the field and give it 110 percent."

Battle also played on all of the 49ers special team's units under new Steelers special teams coach Al Everest. In 2009 he returned 21 punts for 61 yards and three kickoffs for 68 yards.

"I've been a gunner to a punt returner to a kick returner to a lead back to a wedge buster, everything," said Battle. "I've pretty much done it. I feel that early in my career I had success at it and it bought me time to get better as a receiver.

"I'm just coming in and competing. If it's receiver, special teams, I think that was one of my strong attributes, one of the things that attracted me to them was I was able to do so many things."

Allen spent the last six seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who drafted him in the fourth round in 2004 out of Ohio State. Allen started only two games in 2009 before being placed on injured reserve with a thumb injury. He has started 26 games in six years and recorded 174 tackles and had four interceptions

Allen, who was a special team's captain for the Bucs in 2008, has some familiarity with the Steelers as Coach Mike Tomlin was his defensive backs coach for two years in Tampa.

"It was a big part for me," said Allen of the relationship with Tomlin. "You always want to be familiar, but it's a big change moving from the South to the North, from Tampa to Pittsburgh, so I'm eager for the change, I'm eager for the opportunity to be part of this organization and contribute where needed."

Allen can play either free safety or strong safety, and with his special teams ability brings a lot to the table.

"I think I can play a little of everything," said Allen. "I think I'm athletic enough to do it. It's just a matter of where they need me to be and how they need me to play. I have a few months to grow and learn and get more acclimated. I'm a good safety and a good special teams' player."

Allen is unsure of exactly what his role will be at this point, as the Steelers have yet to re-sign two of their own safeties who are free agents in Ryan Clark and Tyrone Carter. But he is open to whatever the team needs.

"I'll just do what they ask at this point," said Allen. "I thought it was a great fit. I thought it was a great move. it was time for a change, time for a new fresh look, what better place than to be in Pittsburgh, a championship team and vying for a world championship every year and playing with a great group of guys and great coaches.

"It's a new look and I get to play under Coach Tomlin again and to play for the Rooney family, the Pittsburgh organization, is huge. I like to make the analogy. You got a great rich tradition of winning and you're playing for more than football, you're playing for the people before you in Steelers black and gold."

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