Last year I posted a similar article - Faces of the 2012 Steelers in January. I thought I should have waited until some of the injuries and cuts come along but alas i too am anxious to start the 2013 season.
The Steelers present this year an unusual number of free agents, older players under contract and a multitude of injuries.
The Front Office and Coaching Staff- Khan may be leaving for 'greener' pasturers. i for one think this may very well have a ripple effect that we wont see or feel for some time. None the less, hard to think that a team like ours with their front office pedigree have not thought about this possible scenario. I hope he stays but surely the Steelers have personnel on their short list should he go. The O line coach is a concern as it has been a mess and although its early- I am surprised that names have not been bantered about. Grimm comes immediately to my mind.
QB- BB will need to restructure and why not, he gets more money upfront and the Steelers get some cap relief. Lefty is gone and Batch stays on 1 more year. The 3rd QB I thought they had, in Hoyer. Yes i know he is not a stud but the Steelers are familiar with him and I just dont see them getting a QB in the middle of the draft (round 3-5). Tyler Thigpen would be another option I feel they may be entertaining. I would prefer Clemens if we can get him. Me thinks, BB,Batch, Thigpen.
RB- Injuries, attitudes and lack of production is how I would describe the current situation.I think my head says Mendy is gone but when I look at his age and his production over tthe prior 3 seasons you kind of want him to stay. The NFL is a business and with Rainey gone ( not that productive from the backfield anyway). Redman and Dwyer are both RFA that will likely come back for 1 more year. But if someone offered a decent trade I would not be surprised the Steelers let them walk. I see them drafting a RB in rounds 2,3, or 4. Preferably Lacey in the 2nd if he is there. As for free agency the only guy with a skill set that I would like to see compliment our stable of backs is Woodhead. I believe the interest in him and cap issues will prevent us from even trying. Dwyer, Batch, Johnson and Lacey drafted in the second
WR- If and when Wallace leaves it will force us to draft a WR plain and simple. Brown and Sanders- whom I believe is a slot reciever, are solid. But we will need another guy to take the top off the secondary. Cotchery and Gilreath are going to stay. Cant see Plax playing more than 10 snaps a game -not enough in a passing NFL. This off season I believe they will sign Sanders to an extension. Free agents that I could see in a Steelers uniform are Amendola and Avery. Again I think cap issue will prevent any meaningful signings anyway. I think a WR in rounds 2-4 can be expected. Cobi Hamilton in the 3rd or Marcus Wheaton in the 4th from Oregon would be a nice fit. Brown, Sanders, Cotchery, Gilreath and Cobie Hamilton drafted in the 3rd.
TE- And again there is an injury issue. If Miller is rehabbing successfully then less of a need at that position and likely to add a TE in later rounds if at all. Miller, Paulson, McCoy
OL- Rumor has it Colon will leave/get cut. If that is so then either Starks or Foster will need to be signed. The Future OL might look like (left to right)-Gilbert, Foster, Pouncey, Decastro, Adams. With Malecki and and Legursky to back up. Beachum might eventually fill in for Foster and making Foster more expendable than Starks. If that should happen I realy believe they draft an interior lineman in the first 2 rounds. Love Warmack, but it depends on BPA to fill a position of need as well as who stays and goes. My gut tells me Foster leaves and Starks stays for another year or two.Gilbert, Starks, Adams, Beachum, Decastro, Legursky, Pouncey and yes Warmack drafted in the first.
DL- This has been one of the more disappointing areas for the Steelers. Expectation regarding their first rounders remain unfulfilled. Gap assignments and mental errors are ok and to be expected, but getting driven off the point of attack is a concern. If they can not occupy lineman to free up the LB's then Lebeau's scheme suffers. I think the Steelers will give Heyward and Hood one more year. Keisel has been solid. But beyond those 3 who else is there? Woods and who else? They may need to draft or sign a free agent DE. Do you try to take one of the Arizona Cardinals UFA's for back up rotational play? Eason or Holliday?
Their NT situation is more ominous. If they really believe that McClendon can play 60-75% of the snaps then fine, look for Hampton to get cut or become heavily discounted this offseason. They still have an issue with depth at that position.Taamu is still a huge ? in my mind. I believe they extend McClendon this off season and will look to the draft for another back up. Keisel, Woods, Hood, Heyward, McClendon, Hampton/Taamu and Mangus Hunt in the 4th round
LB- Harrison, Worilds and Woodley.. Harrison might have one year left - maybe RObinson is a developmental player and I think Carter needs to play or get cut this preseason. I dont see them looking at OLB unless there is good news on the ILB front.
That news is the recovery of Sean SPence which would make Foote expendable, again. Johnson and Sly could back up Spence and Timmons. If that proves to be true I could see the Steelers looking toward and OLB if not they will draft ILB for certain. Teo is on everyones radar but if its a decision to get Teo or Warmack and there is need at both positions you protect your franchise QB. Worilds,Carter, Harrison Woodley, Spence, Timmons, Robinson, Sylvester, Mike Buchanan in the 5th
Secondary- Taylor will be back. Lewis is IMO the TOP priority to resign this offseason. The trio of Lewis, Taylor and Allen will solidify the CB position. Brown has been hurt and at the same time a bit of a disappointment overall. Victoran and King IMO are bodies. I Lewis does not sign then the need on draft day changes completely and they will draft defense in 3 of 4 rounds with CB being the priority.
The safeties are older- Troy and Clark are a combined 64. DCS and Golden are developing but not nearly close in talent as the starters- not many are in this league. Mundy is a liability in pass coverage and I see him parting ways with us drafting in the middle to early rounds or possibly picking up Eric Reid in the second if available. Taylor,Lewis, Allen, Brown, Victoran/King, Clark, Troy, DCS, Golden.
K/P- Pleased with Swishy, Butler not so much. If Hrappman comes in and hs another solid performance I could see the Steelers making a move. Hrapmann, Draft a punter in the 7th or sign a free agent to compete.
Those were my 1191 cents worth if we count a penny a word.
Let me know what you think.