The Pittsburgh Steelers hit free agency hard last year, bringing in a handful of veteran players to earn starting roles and improve depth.
Here is a position-by-position look at the Steelers depth chart going into this year's March 10 start of free agency.
PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers No. 1 pick in 2012, right offensive guard David DeCastro is quickly becoming one of the best at his position. He didn't earn Pro Bowl honors after this season, just his second complete one in the NFL, but awards like that are in his immediate future.
DeCastro is schedule to make about $1.5 million this season, but he is a free agent next year and should get a large pay increase. And he'll be worth every penny if he continues to progress. DeCastro has physically matured in the past two seasons and honed his technique. He didn't get overpowered last season, as he did in 2013, and he had several dominant performances when pulling on running plays. Once his pass blocking gets up to speed, DeCastro will most assuredly be selected to the Pro Bowl.
The left guard, veteran Ramon Foster, was signed as an undrafted free agent and not a high draft pick like four other top offensive linemen for the Steelers. But he is a four-year starter and could be the club's most-consistent performer up front. He also will be an unrestricted free agent in 2016 after nicking the Steelers for a cap hit at $2.15 million this year.
Many believed Foster wouldn't be re-signed in 2013, but he inked a three-year, $5.8 million agreement. He probably won't get the money that DeCastro should get, but Foster has enjoyed his time in Pittsburgh and is raising a family here. So, he would rather stay, and the Steelers would like to keep him to maintain continuity on the offensive line.
The group played together as well as ever last season, so the Steelers want to keep the group intact. First-year player Chris Hubbard backs up both Foster and DeCastro, but starting left tackle Kelvin Beachum and backup center Cody Wallace could be used as backup guards as well.
Hubbard played in one game last year and dressed for six, but he was on the active roster from the outset after spending 2013 on the club's practice squad. Hubbard is under contract for this season and could play a bigger role this year.