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Steelers free agency: Rooney says there are areas they will try to address

If the Steelers do want to look at affordable free agents who could come in and contribute, inside linebacker and safety would be the two key positions to do so. Two names would make intriguing conversation.

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers owner Dan Rooney appeared on ESPN 970 Saturday and acknowledged the elephant in the room.

The Steelers need to bring in some outside help.

While many suggest the Steelers don't dip into free agency, or haven't recently, the team did sign William Gay and Matt Spaeth to free agent deals last offseason. Gay turned out to be the team's best cover cornerback on the year, and Spaeth would have seen significant snaps if not for a foot injury that cost him most of the season.

Still, the moves they've made are not commonly at marquee positions. But Rooney's suggestions indicate the team is still keeping those options open.

"We'll have our eyes open to see if there's somebody that can come in and help us get better," Rooney said. "There's always interesting prospects out there in terms of the unrestricted market. There's certainly some areas we're going to try to address this offseason."

The idea of free agent signings immediately put inside linebackers and safeties into their crosshairs. The team visited with safety Louis Delmas already, and there are a few linebackers available for the right deal.

Two linebackers who would make for interesting conversations regarding their availability would be Ravens pending free agent Darryl Smith and Indianapolis's Kavell Conner. Smith might be out of their price range, considering the outstanding season he had in 2013, but Conner, a younger but less dynamic player, could be had for a reasonable price. He isn't much for third down contributions, but getting a more affordable and less worn buck linebacker than Larry Foote may be a move the team would consider.

Foote is slated to make $1.5 million in 2014, coming off a missed 2013 season due to a torn biceps.