With veteran Kendall Simmons getting his release (word is he has not recovered from an Achilles injury that cost him the 2008 season), and Chris Kemoeatu receiving an offer from the Jets, the Steelers find themselves in the exact position they figured to be in today:
Precariously thin at the offensive guard position.
To put it mildly, Darnell Stapleton did not have his best game in Super Bowl XLIII. If Kemoeatu does sign with the Jets, Stapleton will be the only guard currently on the roster. Trai Essex has been listed as a guard and tackle in the past, as has Jeremy Parquet.
Does this mean the Steelers will pursue a guard on the free agent market? It's a better question to ask if they are going to pursue a starting guard in free agency. Rumors linking Colts C Jeff Saturday playing guard in Pittsburgh were debunked when he re-signed with Indianapolis. Cowboys free agent lineman Joe Berger is talking with the Dolphins.
Saints G Jahari Evans is impressive talent-wise, but his price tag is likely far off what the Steelers will pay. The same can be said for recently released G Derrick Dockery, as well as Ravens suddenly-uber-talented G-C Jason Brown (the Dolphins are going after him hard, according to Armando Salguero) meaning it's a solid bet the Steelers will be looking to draft guard come hell or high water in April. It is early in the free agency period, though.
It seems a safe bet to suggest they may bring in a veteran guard for the sake of providing some depth (see Defensive line: Eason, Nick), unless they plan to extend Trai Essex and give the behemoth a realistic shot at the left guard spot. That is contingent on whether they feel Stapleton is the answer at right guard.
That's certainly a step down from where it was last year.
There's the omnipresent notion of moving recently first-round-tendered Willie Colon back inside, which would really only force the problems to the tackle position, which has only thismuch more depth than the guard position. The Steelers did not make an offer to veteran T Marvel Smith, and appear to be content going into 2009 with Max Starks and Colon.
It was very likely the Steelers were going interior offensive line in the draft, and perhaps in anticipation all of this, they feel comfortable saying they will select a starter with one of their picks.