With the 2012 season finally coming to an end (an awful, sickening end if you ask me), the NFL is now in full-offseason mode. Free Agency is the first step, and the Steelers have already made moves by releasing Chris Rainey. When free agency opens in full on March 13, players will be boarding planes across the country to meet and sign with new teams and Steeler Nation will be holding its breath awaiting the fates of many beloved Steelers.
The Steelers have made it clear that they are not married to any of their free agents, so those hoping for the Steelers to resign the expensive Mike Wallace or aging vets Larry Foote and Max Starks might be disappointed. However, just because they are going to let their players test the market doesn't mean they won't still try to resign some of them. The Steelers are hoping the rest of the league is sleeping on the value of their players, and looking around the league that just might be the case.
In an ESPN Insider article written by former Colts GM Bill Polian, the top free agents in the NFL are ranked on a scale ranging from A, B, and C tiers. The A tier is defined as players Polian would pay top dollar, starter-caliber money for. Tier B is defined as players who Polian would try to sign, but only if the price was right. And Tier C is defined as players he would sign to only minimal 1-2 year deals with low bonus money.
You'll have to subscribe if you haven't already to read the full article, but what I found interesting is that while Mike Wallace was slotted in the A tier, there was not not even one other Steeler to make the list. That's right, Wallace is the only Steeler free agent that this man would even offer a contract. Foote, Starks, Keenan Lewis and Ramon Foster didn't even earn a C grade, meaning they would be waiting behind 100+ other players before getting a contract.
Keeping in mind that Polian was fired for failing to build a team that wasn't completely reliant on Peyton Manning, it is safe to assume that other, more thorough GMs will be interested in players like Lewis and Starks. Still, this should offer hope to Steeler fans who would like to see some more familiar faces next year. If most GMs around the league think as Polian does, these Steeler free agents will find their prospects in other cities slim. When that happens, I'm sure Omar Khan will be waiting with open arms and a team-friendly contract ready to sign on the dotted line.