So that is what this post is going to be about. Those unheralded members of the 2012 Free Agent class that can fill a need. The need in my opinion are OG, ILB, K, back up NT, back up OLB, back up OT, and back up QB.
I know this team and organization is not one to spend the big money one big named Free Agents. That is not what this post is about. This is about the middle of the road Free Agents that can come in a help the team. The team has gone in down this road in the past with success. James Farrior after been label as a "bust" was allowed to leave the Jets and enter Free Agency. Since then he led the team in tackles from 2003-2009, was a captain for 8 years and has been with the team for the last ten. Not a bad pick up. How about Ryan Clark? Ryan Clark signed with the Steelers in 2006, as a replacement for the loss of Chris Hope. He has been the starting safety since and this year led the team in tackles.
I'll start with ILB because there is plenty of reletively young talent here and this is a position that is very weak in this draft. I shouldn't need to say that a guys like Curtis Lofton, Anthony Spencer, London Fletcher or E.J. Hendersen will probably not be targeted by the Steelers but there are some Starters and back ups that could be.
Hawthrone is the starting MLB for the Seahawks. He is 6' 246lbs and will be 27 years old next season. In the last three years he has finished with 100+ tackle. Why then would Seattle let he go? Well the Seahawks have 18 unrestricted Free Agents. they may not be able to keep him. The guy flies around and would be a good complement to Timmons at ILB for a fair price. Might be too high for the Steelers though.
Dan Connor is a solid MLB out of Penn State. The Panthers had to move John Beason to the outside so last year was Connors first year starting. He is 6'2" 231lbs so would need to bulk up about 9lbs but he is only 26 and won't be 27 till November of this year. The Panther don't have a lot of Free Agents this off season so could keep him but may not choose to.
Grant is a back up MLB for the 49ers he has started only three games this season. However in those three games he was flying around like crazy. One of those games was against the Steelers. I think the Steelers pro scout really took note of him. Grant is 6'1" 251lbs thumper who has one year with the 49ers and 3 witht he Rams. He is 26 and will be 27 in February. Grant could be a lower price guy that could come in and play. The 49ers have a whole list of Free Agents so I don't believe a back up ILB will be on their priority.
The Steelers let Fox go to Free Agency last year where he wasn't a hot commodity. However the Steelers like guys that already know their system and Fox was solid in the 3 games he started for the Steelers in 2009. Fox is due to be 30 so this would be just a stop gap move. Fox was also a good Special teams guy. I could see the Steelers getting back Fox if both Farrior and Foote do not return next year. Especially cause Fox will come cheap.
It is safe to say guard is a big need. The Steelers may choose to bring in a middle round Free Agent then draft a guard in the third. Again guys like Ben Grubbs, Logan Mankins or Carl Nicks aren't an option.
Zuttah started 14 games this season for the Bucs. He is a solid player who is good when he plays with a mean streak. He was the 3rd round pick in 2008 and is only 25 years old. Zuttah may be resigned by the Bucs but he would definitely be an upgrade over Kemo and may be better than Foster. He would not be my first choice but could be an option.
Carey signed a 1 year 2.5 million dollar contract last year to remain with the Dolphins. He played some guard and tackle for the Dolphins. He is a sold tackle and guard and would be an upgrade over Foster. Carey would come at a decent price for a Free Agent and could be an option.
That's pretty much it. The Steelers would be better off drafting a Guard if they want a solid starter for years.
Prater has a leg. He has 47 touch backs compared to 28 for Suisham. For his carreer he has a 78.4 FG percentage which isn't great but this year he was 3 of 4 on 50+ yard FG with a career long of 59. That would give us some major confidence we don't have with Suisham.
Again another kicker with a good leg. He had a 92 FG % this year that include 6 FG of 50+ yards. Scobee will be 30 next year but that isn't too much of a concern. Scobee might be hard to get away from the Jaguars though.
As you might expect there aren't NT just given away. There is literally no one worth it. Paul Soliai is the only good NT here and it would cost way too much to get him away from The only close to being at a decent price would be Shaun Rodgers but he is 32 and declining. Better off drafting someone in the first three rounds.
Sione Pouha NT New York Jets
He is a good NT but also 32. He cost way too much for some one to spell Hampton.
Back Up QB
Lets face it BAtch is probably going to retire, Lefty is a FA and so is Dixon. They won't sign Dixon and may draft someone in the later rounds of the draft so we will need some one.
If we wanted someone who could play we could take
Chad Henne, QB Miami
Henne is still young and has starter some games. He is a guy who can come in and run an offense if need. I have always liked what Henne brings to the table physically he just wasn't that great mentally. The Dolphins won't bring him back.
Byron Leftwitch, QB Pittsburgh Steelers
Leftwitch is a Free Agent and was on IR all last year. I'd bring him back if completely healthy. He is a solid back up who knows the offense and can win games if needed.
Bartel is a 3rd year player with the Cardinals. He has only played in three games but after watching him in preseason I am convinced he can be a solid backup QB for any team. He is a restricted Free Agent so if the Card tender him the Steelers won't go after him.
David Garrard, QB, Unemployed
Garrard has been a starting QB with Playoff experience and a Pro Bowl season. He is a big guy with mobility and a good arm. He was let go by the Jacksonville Jaguars and then had surgery which kept him from signing with anyone. If Garrard is healthy and the price is right I would take him. He would give us a good character back up who we could trust to put in for an injury Ben and Garrard is a big guy who won't break if hit. The only problem would be he is 33 years old and will be 34 next year.
If we want to spend some money we could get Demetrius Bell, Khalif Barnes or even Joe Thomas. However Jamon Meredith is a UFA, Johnathan Scott is an UFA and so is Max Starks. If we want a starter than
Filling in for injuries Gaithers didn't allow a single sack. He is a solid LT.
Vernon Carey ,G/T Miami Dolphins
Max Starks, OT Pittsburgh
If he is cheap I would bring Starks back as a back up to Gilbert or as an LT with Gilbert being a guard. However the first is probably more reasonable with the way Gilbert played this season.
Well those are some of the Free agent. I think that the Steelers could and should get at least one position filled with free agency. Preferably ILB as I like the ILB Free Agents better than the paper thin draft class. They have some other questions like William Gay is an UFA. Doug Legursky is a RFA and Foster is an RFA. Trai Essex is an UFA.