There is an understandable amount of concern among Steeler Nation lately due to the departure of key pieces of our team. I have read numerous articles and comments from various individuals throughout the business and fan bases describing Free Agency and the 8-8 season as a disaster. While I would agree that it is unsettling losing solid contributors like Mike Wallace and Keenan Lewis plus the the release if James Harrison, I do not believe it is time to panic. The Steelers simply just turn the page. ProFootballTalk.com has a great article discussing some of these points also that I recommend.
Would the Steelers have liked to keep Wallace and Lewis? Yes. Was it feasible to do that at their market price? Probably not, and the Steelers FO knew this going into it. This isn't the first, nor the last time this situation will arise. Many Steelers in the past have left for greener pastures in the past, but often haven't found it. I am not wishing ill careers on any FA of the Steelers, but this is just how it goes. Bryant McFadden and William Gay are notable CBs to see this trend. It's a business and our players thrive in our systems verses some others; it's not a good formula. Bottom line here, the Steelers will reload. They don't just sit back in FA letting their players go and pass on other teams' FA.. they simply calculate their moves. They will not overpay for a free agent, plain and simple. They will, however, take an under the radar player and attempt to maximize the talent level; see James Farrior and Ryan Clark.
As far as Harrison goes, it was his time. It was a nasty mix of a large contract, age concerns, and injury issues that forced the Steelers and Harrison into that decision. Harrison could have easily taken a pay cut, but pride wouldn't let him. In the end, he did what he thought was best for himself and there is something that can be said for that. Like Tomlin said, Harrision is irreplaceable, but the Steelers will do what they always do. He will move on in similar fashion just like Joey Porter and Jason Gildon before him and the Steelers will do the same. Jason Worlids has had limited action, and it will be a breath of fresh air to see what he can prove with more playing time. He really showed potential and could truly benefit from Woodley's alleged increased conditioning this offseason. Fear not on the OLB front.. the FO has a plan.
Which brings me to the Sanders ordeal. I do not believe the Pats will sign him, but if they did... great. Sanders is a good player and not a bust in my mind... but he isn't a rockstar either. He hasn't been able to really contribute fully due to nagging foot injuries over the couple of years that he has been in the league. Hard to say, but his ceiling might be a high end slot receiver. With that said, if we get a 3rd for him and save some cap room... awesome. We can snag a receiver like Ryan Swope or Quitton Patton in the 3rd and not skip a beat.
I do not really feel the need to address the off the wall notion of trading Polamalu and/or Big Ben..
Players leave, players get cut, and they retire. It's the structure of the game.. Time to turn the page and reload our team.