Let's continue with our overview of each and every Pittsburgh Steelers player whose contract expired after the 2010 season. We've got a number of guys to discuss whose future hinges on a number of interrelated and complicated factors. Here's one though that's not at all difficult to wrap our heads around: Doug Legursky.
The back story: Legursky joined the Steelers as an undrafted free agent rookie in 2008. Much to the chagrin of the infamous former BTSC reader Robert Ethan, Legursky didn't quite make it out of camp that year with a spot on the 53-man roster. The Marshall grad however was signed to the practice squad early in the '08 season after Marvel Smith was placed on IR with a back injury.
Legursky did make the team the following season in '09, appearing in 8 games with no starts. It wasn't until this past season that Legursky really had an opportunity to make an impression on his coaches, teammates and fans. Legursky played some at guard, was deployed in jumbo packages as a lead blocker around the goal line, and finally, filled in for the injured Maurkice Pouncey at center in the AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl. His performances against the Jets and Packers garnered solid reviews, and almost certainly cemented his status as someone the Steelers would like to bring back.
'Free' but not really:
Though Legursky is a free agent, he's not really free at all. Why? Because he's an Exclusive Rights Free Agent, which means he has no more than two accrued NFL seasons. ERFAs can only sign with their prior team, provided the team makes a qualifying minimum offer. In other words, unpack your bags Mr. Legursky, you're hanging around the 'Burgh for at least another season. The question though is whether or not the Steelers decide to offer more than just the bare-bones one-year minimum deal to Legursky. I doubt it, but it's a possibility for sure since he'd only become more expensive to retain once he became a restricted free agent after this season.
What I'd do: I've seen this idea thrown around, but would it make sense to maybe use Legursky at center and Pouncey at right guard? That would give the Steelers a pretty solid interior to their offensive line in '11. Even if the Steelers do draft a guard early on in this year's draft, it's not a slam dunk that he'd be ready and able to play at a high level as a rookie. Maybe, maybe not. We know though that Legursky can hold his own, and I doubt Pouncey would struggle too much making the transition to guard. Perhaps in '11 you move Pouncey back to center and roll with your second-year guard then?
Not likely, I know. So what about Legursky's value at guard? It's harder to say. What we do know is that the dude is strong as an ox, and pretty darn nimble and quick to boot. Legursky set weight room records at Marshall in the squat (705 lbs) and hang clean (430 pounds). Ridiculous. And to think he's probably gotten even stronger and certainly more agile, flexible and explosive since joining the Steelers.
Color me a believer be it at center or guard. He'll turn 25 this summer meaning he's young and inexperienced enough still to believe that his best football is ahead of him, yet old enough now to have learned the nuanced mental aspect of his craft since leaving college.
Even if Legursky is a guy the Steelers believe in, I suppose there's no reason to offer him more than a one-year minimum deal, which would be somewhere in the 400-500k range I believe. I would tell Legursky to work hard this offseason, whoop some ass in camp and the preseason, earn a helmet, and a nice two-year extension is his at some point early in the '11 season.