I have been waiting a while to post my thoughts on this subject... Wanted to see how the Incognito/Martin looked before I posted.
First, looking forward, Maurkice Pouncey will be a free agent next year, and his salary this year is $5.5 million. What type of money will he want/command next year? Will the Steelers be in a place where they would be able to afford him? Would you want to pay that much money to an interior lineman?
Second, we have Marcus Gilbert, who himself is a free agent after next season, and Mike Adams, FA after 2015 season, fighting for what seems to be the RT position (I am assuming after the way Beachum played he will be the LT going into training camp). I, personally, do not want to keep Gilbert around, I have never been a big fan of his (and I live outside of Gainesville so I followed him when he was with the Gators). I believe Adams has more potential than Gilbert, and with an extra year before free agency he would be the guy I would look to more as a solution at RT, and possibly moving to LT eventually.
Now, why do I bring this stuff up? Jonathan Martin. If I am the Steelers I talk to the Dolphins about his availability. The Dolphins are in need of an OT and OG in this draft. If you dangle Pouncey and Gilbert at them, will that get you Martin and their 1st round pick? They can move Mike to OG, plug in Maurkice at C, and use Gilbert at RT. Let them worry about Maurkice's price tag next year. Let them pay his $5.5m this year.
Why on God's great green Earth would Pittsburgh do that? A few reasons.
1) Maurkice is always hurt. Consistency and chemistry is what is needed in an OL. The Steelers OL looked great at the end of the year, Ben was not getting hit and the running game was finally starting to show signs of life. All of that without Maurkice. Use the money you would have paid Maurkice and resign Velasco. If Velasco is getting healthy (which I have not seen any info on that), he has the knowledge of knowing Munchak's system, having played for him with the Titans.
2) If Maurkice walks next year, what are you going to get for him, a 3rd round pick at best. I don't see the Steelers signing Pouncey to a long term, rich deal with his injury history. Besides, he is not even the best center in the division, a title which I believe belongs to Alex Mack.
From the Steelers point of view, you can bring in Martin, a college teammate and good friend of David DeCastro. At Stanford they were an impressive left side of the line together. The Cardinal ran to their side most often. Put Martin at RT and see if that duo can recapture their Stanford days. Martin will also give you an additional year before free agency over Gilbert.
I think Munchak will get the best out of the OL, and I think this will be a huge hire for the Steelers. His experience, knowledge and leadership should go a long way into helping mold a very talented group into a dominate group. I suspect he will get the most from Adams, as he does have all the tools.
Having any combination of Adams, Beachum and Martin starting, with one in reserve at the tackle position for the next few years gives the team time.
Having the extra 1st round pick positions them to either trade back and acquire more picks in the 2nd-3rd rounds, or gives them the potential of getting any combination of S/CB/DE/TE immediately to plug in.
Heath Miller, Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor are all free agents after this season. They account for over $30m in salary this year. Cutting them this season saves you $21m. Is Ike worth $11.9m if Cortez Allen is going to be your number 1 corner? Is drafting a CB in the 1st round and cutting Ike a better move financially?
Is Heath worth $9.5m? I would restructure him, add another year and get those cap numbers much lower. He is still talented, but he is on the declining side of his career. Team him with Eric Ebron or Austin Seferian Jenkins to create match-up problems for opposing defenses.
Is Troy worth $10.9m? For the last year of this contract, and how he played last year, yes, I give it to him. I bring in a safety this year though, to have him learn under Troy.
As for Woodley.... He has to stay healthy, and cutting him this year makes no sense as it would only add to our cap. I think Porter will have a huge affect on him. I think we will see the Woodley of old this year.
Anyways, those are my thoughts. Look forward to reading your comments.
UPDATE: After reading some posts I have to add a further comment. The whole thing about swapping Martin for Gilbert, simply a matter of locking up an OL for more time. Gilbert is a free agent next season and I would not resign him. He was a 2nd round pick, and what, really, would you get as a compensatory pick for him should he sing elsewhere. No team is going to give him a huge contract, no team will see him as the savior for their LT woes. With Martin you have an additional year to see what he can do, if he can bulk up, and if teaming him with DeCastro gets him motivated. I do not see Martin playing either T position this year should him the Steelers acquire him, as I have stated I believe Beachum and Adams will claim those positions (unless the Steelers draft a LT high).
My whole rationale was that the Dolphins would not want to keep him around, and they need a G and T. Getting Maurkice, to them, might be a bigger prize than drafting anybody at 19. Swapping Martin and Gilbert was a way to get the Steelers more time to get their salary cap situation under control. Eliminate the big Pouncey contract next year, bring back Velasco for a fraction of the price (and the line played better as a unit with him at C then they have with Maurkice there) and get an extra year of a young lineman under contract. I firmly believe bringing in Munchak will get the most out of Adam, and further improve an OL that was coming into it's own at the end of last year.