We're all familliar with the mantra that "we don't rebuild, we re-load". It's a nice thought along with "the standard is the standard". I think it's a good idea to have pervasive ideas that sucking as a team is in no way shape or form acceptable.
In light of the salary cap issues, I took a little time looking at what kind of changes are necessary this spring. The team needs to shed something like $25M before march and will need to free up another $10-15M to get the roster ready for camp. The first $25M is basically cuts of guys with a single year left (so multiple years of bonus proration don't land in 2012) and restructures of contracts. The second chunk can include those but also cuts of guys with multiple years left after June 1 when the proration left will land in 2013.
So back to the reloading and to why I've attached photos of guys holding machine guns here. There's a lot of reloading to do. Starting in WWII when a big firefight was expected, troops taped machine gun magazines together back to back "jungle style". When the first was spent, they simply flipped the clip around and kept at it. It's done a lot in Hollywood moves. (stills from Full Metal Jacket and DieHard 2 here)
This year on the south side the clip is being flipped. The hot brass of Aaron Smith, Casey Hampton, Chris Hoke James Farrior, Larry Foote, Will Allen, Bryant McFadden, Chris Kemoeautu, Hines Ward, and Arnaz Battle are more than likely headed to the ground. Between this and the OC change, this is looking like the closest you'll see to a rebuilding year in Pittsburgh. We're all busy speculating on what bullets Kevin Colbert has in that second clip. Some are in house, some might be free agents and many are readying for the draft.
I thought it might be helpful to take a look at the roster with all these guys missing to inform the draft postings a little. If you think Casey Hampton will be back in 2012 coming off an ACL and with a $8M cap hit, think again...
NT (1/2) Mclendon the lone man in the middle. Ziggy may be worth a look. - high draft need.
ILB (2/5) Morty Ivy might be worth a look. Possibly take a look at Chris Carter here? Really need a thumper to complement Timmons - High draft need.
OLB (4/4) late round/UDFA practice squad type would be ok here unless they see value and want to move Carter to ILB. I think this draft looks pretty good for OLB prospects.
S (3/4) DCS probably has the inside track. Anthony Madison might be an option. Both starters are over 30 so this is an area to have young guys with upside though it's hard to argue for it in this draft.
CB (4/6) good young guys here finally. Roll the dice in the later rounds and re-sign Gay.
QB (2/3) Ben and Troy Smith holding down the fort. Byron probably to re-sign after June. 5th round or later guy to compete might not be a bad idea.
OG (1/3) Foster is the only true G with any experience - most glaring need,
OT (3/4) (Gilbert, Colon, C. Scott) There are a couple other bodies on the roster who might shine in camp. Could use another young guy with LT potential. maybe 3-5th round.
WR (3/5) Hopefully the team will re-sign Cotchery or Ward and draft a mid-late round guy.
FB (0/1) !!!!!! maybe 4th-5th round
RB (5/4) more injured backs than you can shake a stick at.
ST(3/3) Swish or Warren might be replaced for cap savings. possibly with a 7th.
With those needs in mind, Here's a couple mocks that address the needs.
1.24 Keleche Oselme OG - ISU
2.24 Josh Chapman NT- Bama
3.24 Audie Cole - ILB - NC State.
4.24 Don Barclay - LOT - WVU.
5.24 Case Keenum - QB - Houston
6.24 J.R. Sweezy - DE - NC State
7.24 Tashaun Gipson - CB - Wyoming
7 Comp 1 Derek Moye - WR - PSU
7 Comp 2 Emil Egwenagu - FB- UMass
1.24 Donta Hightower ILB Bama
2.24 Kevin Zeitler OG Wisconsin
3.24 Nate Potter OT Boise St
4.24 Delvin Johnson NT Marshall
5.24 Cody Johnson FB Texas
6.24 Kyle Wilber DE Wake Forsest
7.24 Patrick Edwards WR Houston
7 Comp1 Gary Gray CB Notre Dame
7 Comp2 Dan Persa QB Northwestern