Let me first say I be looking at certain players at their perspective positions giving my logic for the keep/cut scenario. So here goes...
QB- Ben, Leftwich and Smith. I believe Batch will either retire, coach or get cut. The fact he did not see any action the past 3-4 games may be an indictment of his ability or worse an indicator of how much influence BB had over the staff.
RB- Let me say if Mendy comes back healthy and rehabilitated he will be the starter. If for what ever reason he is not progressing look for the Steelers to take another back late in the draft this year. The running backs to me are intriguing. Redman has earned his spot as either 1b or 2. After that, you have Moore who is only 30 but is an UFA who I believe will look for that final bigger contract. Dwyer has shown promise and so has Batch. Should Batch stumble then Clay will likely make the roster. The difference between Batch and Clay is obvious and I think who ultimately makes the team will depend on who the OC is.
WR- Some people have asked to consider trading Wallace, but I think you need to keep him. Wallace, Brown, Sanders and yes the aging Hines Ward. I still think they did not get him on the field enough in the last 4 games to give BB some secuity. I think they will try and should resign Cotchery. My feeling is he will want to be part of the team even as a number 4/ possession type receiver. After that, whom ever can truly contribute on special teams. I still like Battle in that 5 or 6 slot.
TE- Miller and Saunders are the obvious here. I believe Johnson will be the hybrid TE/ FB that gives them versatility. The Steelers love versatility. I do think this is the year they get a TE in the draft though.
OL- God, where do I begin? Let me first say, I was not excited by the hire of the offensive line coach. Having said, that I believe we add by subtraction first. A real house cleaning is in order here. I will certainly cut Kemo, Essex, and C Scott. Starks I would bring back if he was interested in a back up role. The last 4 games starting in San Francisco seemed to signal to me he had run out of gas. Colon comes back at a reduced rate and only if he has fully recovered. The where for Colon is the most perplexing question.. I think at this juncture he is best suited for G, but is he starter material? Pouncey, and Gilbert are starters. I would let Foster, Legursky, and the remaining Scott as well as Meredith and Malecki battle it out I still think the other roster spots are yet to be filled either through the draft or FA - cap allowing. I would love to see them get a Sean Ohara if the price is right to mentor Pouncey. The draft will likely produce 2 OL in the first 4 rounds who can start contributing.
DL- A lot of turnover here in just one season. Hoke is retiring and the Aaron Smith era is likely over as well. Hampton is entering the twilight of his career and with his cap number where it is it may prove too big a nut to keep. On the other hand with Hoke retiring does it force the steelers to resign him even though he is a 2 down player at best? I can't see the Steelers going for another D lineman in the first round. But I could see them playing with a few possibilities.....
Ziggy as an end has not excited me. I wonder if they will entertain him as a NT. I certainly think a NT will be taken in the 2nd or 3rd rounds. Hayward and Keisel will start at the ends next year. McClendon will make the team as a back up. Bryant, Woods will compete as well.
LB- Woodley, Timmons and Harrison as well as Worilds are on the team. I have liked what I have seen from Sylvester. Not enough to dismiss Farrior but enough to ask him to restructure if he does come back. I would wonder who gives the team more balance for 2012- Farrior or Foote? Either way one of them will not be on the roster. I trust management to make the right call. Carter, ivy and Sylvester will compete and yes they will draft a LB or 2 in the draft.
S/CB- I would be very surprised if Gay takes money to go elsewhere. More than any other corner, I believe him to be the most dependent on Lebeau's system. Taylor, Brown and Allen are coming back. As is Lewis. Say goodbye to McFadden and Madison ( though I liked his special teams play the two young corners can make up for that) Yeah we draft another CB. I love the Clark and Troy, but time waits for no one and we will draft a safety this season. Mundy is a solid back up.
P/K- I truly don't know. Suisham and Kapinios don't excite me. Sepulveda is too much of a question mark. Your guess is as good as
Free agency is an interesting spot this year. Free agents have certainly made a difference in the past- Bettis, Farrior, Green, Hartwig to name a few. The Steelers have never gone big in FA but I truly believe they should sign some depth at the o line and possibly the d line as well. Sean Ohara would lead my list as well as Demetrius Bell. If we could swing that, I would say good bye to Starks and possibly Colon (just for cap issues signing Bell:)). Lutui , and Nicks round out the O-line wish list. Pouha, Soliai and McBean from Denver intrigue me on the defensive side of the ball. I realize we can and won't sign most of those of these guys as cap issues will be the priority just to bet back in balance. But looking at the injuries I am hoping that we develop depth that can start on both sides of the line.