It’s Free Agent Season In Pittsburgh



It’s that time of year again when the Steelers must address their current free agents and decide who they feel is pertinent in helping them in their quest for ring number seven. The difference this year from many others is the front office needs to understand this team is not going to be a Super Bowl contender immediately, so some guys who may provide them immediate gains; may not be fits for this team due to the current status of the team.  They must focus on the younger guys they feel will impact them in the long term and help them get back to being a dominant franchise who is a contender for multiple years.

The black and gold currently have 21 unrestricted free agents. Let’s take a look at who they are and what should be done with each of those players along with what will most likely be done.

Wide Receivers (3)

Emmanuel Sanders-Sanders is a very solid number two option for Big Ben behind Antonio Brown. He has speed and is a good route runner.  He’s a guy that can only go up. Sanders set a career high in TD receptions in 2013 and will continue to get better over the next few years. The problem for Sanders is the team already has a speedy guy in Brown. While I believe the team should keep Sanders, it’s likely he’ll move on. The Patriots signed him to an offer sheet last year that the Steelers were able to match. The team will not have that luxury this year. With the most likely scenario being Sanders commanding a high salary, he’ll probably be off to greener pastures and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him land in New England.

Jerricho Cotchery-Cotchery had an excellent 2013. He’s a must keep. Whether the team keeps Sanders or not; should not impact the signing of Cotchery. He’s a very good possession receiver and provided a great target for Big Ben on crucial downs. He’s a great as a number three guy and could pass as a two if necessary. The team must do what they can to bring him back and I expect they will. Look for him to sign a two year contract with the black and gold.

Plaxico Burress-Burress is up there in age and missed all of last year due to injury. It’s very unlikely the team would want him back but to me he’s a guy they should look at bringing back on a one year deal at the league minimum. He’s a big receiver who could be very useful in the red zone and on critical 3rd downs. I expect he’ll be allowed to leave and his career could actually be over if the Steelers don’t sign him.






Running Backs (3)

Jonathan Dwyer-Dwyer must be brought back. He’s an excellent complement to LeVeon Bell and brings a lot of energy and fight to the huddle. Dwyer is not afraid to get the tough yards and can even fill in as a starter if necessary. I believe the team will make a play to bring him back and he should return.

Felix Jones-Jones really didn’t show much when he was given the opportunity to play. He was supposed to be a third down back and kick returner but played no factor in either facet of the game. Jones shouldn’t be brought back but there is a scenario where he could return if the team can’t secure Dwyer.

LaRod Stephens-Howling- Stephens Howling missed the entire year due to injury, causing the Steelers to trade for Jones. There is no chance that both Jones and Stephens Howling return. I’d prefer to bring back Stephens Howling over Jones but I believe the team should allow both to walk and just keep Dwyer. I think there is an outside shot that Stephens Howing does return but it would be unlikely.

Tight Ends (2)

David Johnson-Johnson has been a decent blocker and has played the occasion role of full back but there is no need to bring him back and I don’t believe he’ll be back.  The team has Heath Miller under contract along with Matt Spaeth. Johnson will be gone.

Michael Palmer-Who?

Offensive Linemen (3)

Fernando Velasco-Velasco must be brought back. He played extremely well when brought in after the start of the season to replace Maurkice Pouncey. Bringing him back would add much needed depth to the offensive line and provide a very adequate backup at center. It could also allow Pouncey to move to starting guard and keep Velasco as starting center. The options are endless and I believe the Steelers know this and will attempt to retain Velasco.

Cody Wallace-Wallace was brought in to replace the injured Velasco and he too did a great job when called upon. He should be brought back as well. I don’t’ think he’ll be retained unless Velasco goes however.

Guy Whimper-Whimper didn’t do much and shouldn’t’ be brought back nor do I believe the team wants him back. Good luck Guy, wherever you go.



Defensive Linemen (3)

Ziggy Hood-Hood was a first round pick of the Steelers in 2009 but hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations the team has had for him. That said, the Steelers can probably resign him cheaply and I believe they should. He played well down the stretch when he came in for Brett Keisel, he knows the system and he does have the talent that warranted his first round selection. The Steelers will make an attempt to bring Hood back on a three or four year contract.

Brett Keisel-Keisel is a Steeler legend, rightfully so. He showed he could still be effective when he played this season however he did miss multiple games due to injury. Given his age and the status of the team, it just doesn’t make sense to bring him back. It’s hard to say and even harder to imagine the team without Da Beard but it’s just not in the cards. The black and gold most likely will not attempt to bring him back and Keisel will most likely retire.

Al Woods-Woods played in all 16 games in 2013 but with little impact. He may be an option for the team should they not bring Hood back but I don’t believe the team should really attempt to bring him back unless they are in a pinch.  That said, the Steelers will most likely offer him a contract in the hopes of keeping some depth on the line.

Linebackers (3)

Stevenson Sylvester-Sylvester has been with the team for four years and has never registered a sack. He may have talent but it hasn’t shown up yet and he’s not worth bringing back. The Steelers may attempt to bring him back one way or the other but should they lose Jason Worilds, the odds go way up.

Jason Worilds-Must Sign, must sign, must sign!  Worilds exploded on the scene the back half of the season and showed he can be a true force for the Steelers. The team must find a way to bring him back at just about any cost. He is young, versatile and explosive. I believe they’ll make a serious attempt to bring him back but it’s going to be very difficult as he’ll be in serious demand around the league. With the team having cap constraints; it may be just too difficult to accomplish this signing.

Jamaal Westermen-Who?

Long Snapper (1)

Greg Warren-Warren is effective at his job but he’s a dime a dozen. If they bring him back, I’m ok with that, if they don’t; I’m ok with that too. I think he’ll end up back with the team.

Punter (1)

Mat McBriar-Eh, I could go either way here. He’s ok but if they can find another option, they should do so. Perhaps even draft a punter.  I think they’ll look to find someone other than McBriar to punt for them in 2014.

The Steelers have 21 decisions to make in the coming months to help mold the team for not only 2014 but more importantly for years to come. If they are unable to retain the pertinent guys or make the incorrect decisions, they’ll be putting this team even further back.

They need to focus on the future of this organization and not fool themselves into thinking they are a contender immediately. The team needs to drop the ‘transition’ mode and move into rebuild mode. They have some core guys who can help them and we’ll see how they view the future as well as the present of this organization based on who they bring back and who they let go.



One Comment on "It’s Free Agent Season In Pittsburgh"

  1. longarm929 on Mon, 27th Jan 2014 10:59 pm 

    Nice analysis good job.

    One thing I’m not sure about drafting a punter may be better to use the pick for another position. Punters are out there and one could be found through free agency.