I know the Steelers never sign big-money free agents, and I wouldn't want them to anyway, but it's the off season so I have to focus on something and I can only devote so much time and attention to the draft. This years crop of FA ILB's is deep. Granted most of them are restricted, but it would really be sweet if one of them were on the Steelers roster.
Anyone who's watched him will find it hard to argue against the sentiment that he's one of the top ILB's in the NFL. His 2009 stats my not seem impressive but he's a force to be reckoned with. Equally adept at playing both the run and the pass, he's also played in both a 3-4 and 4-3 defensive fronts. Certainly the cream of the FA crop, and not just for his position. It would definitely take more than the Steelers would be willing to pony up to sign him. He was franchised last year by the Cardinals, and if he's tagged again it would cost about 20mil so if they can't reach a contract agreement then they may let him hit free agency.
I'm a big fan of Ryans' playing style. He's a very smart player who goes unnoticed a lot but he's great against the run and would look good in a Steelers uniform. Ryans is a restricted FA and will almost assuredly be offered his tender.
Ruud is definitely one of the more underrated players in the NFL. He's never given much credit for the job he does. He's played his whole career in the Tampa-2 so I'm not sure how well he would handle in a 3-4. Like Ryans, he's also a RFA who is most likely be offered a tender if he isn't signed long-term.
4. D'Qwell Jackson - Cleveland Browns
Weight: 240 lbs.
2009 stats: 59 tackles 1 forced fumble
If Ruud is underrated, Jackson has been invisible. Not many people outside of the AFC North know about him. He doesn't have have that "wow" factor, but his blue collar workman's mentality would go well with the Steelers. He missed 10 games this past season due to a chest injury, but he's gotten better every year that he's been in the league. He's a RFA but new Brownies Czar Mike Holmgren may let him walk in free agency. Jackson wouldn't command that much in the open market so he may be the only realistic option on this list. And admittedly it would put a smile on my face for us to sign him from the Browns and have him grow into a solid starter for many years to come.
5. Derrick Johnson - Kansas City Chiefs
Weight: 242 lbs.
2009 stats: 37 tackles 1 sack 1 ff 3 int's 2 td's
Johnson is a former 1st round pick that never lived up to his potential. He was highly rated coming out of Texas during the draft. His athleticism is unparalleled but he's been a problem child for the Chiefs since they drafted him. He quickly fell out of favor with new coach Todd Haley and as such he only started 3 games this past season. He's a RFA and despite returning 2 interceptions for touchdowns late in the year against the Broncos he probably won't be offered a tender. He might be an intriguing pick-up if he can be sign for low money but he's probably not worth the headache.
He's a great run defender who has averaged almost 120 tackles every season he's been in the NFL. He's also a RFA and there's no telling what the Crypt Keeper will do. I'm sure Morrison is crossing his fingers that Old Al will let him walk.