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Remaining inside linebacker free agents the Steelers could target for 2017

If the Steelers feel they need to fill the void left by Lawrence Timmons’ departure to Miami, there are some quality inside backers left on the market.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The market at inside linebacker has not been as fast moving as others in 2017. The Steelers let one of their best 2016 defenders sign with Miami. With Lawrence Timmons gone, the Steelers seem content with Vince Williams in his spot. However, the courtship of Dont’a Hightower makes you wonder exactly where they stand. Here are the best of the rest and whether or not they can potentially don black and gold in 2017.

Gerald Hodges - San Francisco 49ers

Hodges is the guy I have been hoping the Steelers go after all along. The 26-year-old would be a very good replacement for Lawrence Timmons. He covers pass targets and handles the run very well. The veteran of four seasons in Minnesota and San Francisco had 83 tackles, three sacks and two picks last year. The former Nittany Lion is a very reliable defender that wouldn't potentially break the bank and could add solid depth and start in case of injury.

Kevin Minter - Arizona Cardinals

With a combined 175 tackles the previous two seasons, Minter has emerged as a solid inside linebacker in the league. Minter would be a solid get for the Steelers. He reminds me a bit James Farrior-esque. He visited Cincinnati recently and was scheduled to be in Indy on Friday.

Zach Brown - Buffalo Bills

Brown took a very long time to develop since being drafted by the Titans in 2012. However, his walk year found him second among NFL tacklers in '16 with 149. Although playing in a 4-3 doesn't necessarily keep you from transitioning to a 3-4, the Pro Bowler is probably lower on the list for the Steelers.

Sean Spence - Tennessee Titans

This move still seems likely to occur. Spence played well when finally recovered from his devastating injury that cost him the beginning of his career. He knows the system and the team knows him. Spence finished 2016 with 54 tackles and three sacks. With Williams starting, Spence could be inexpensive depth.

Manti Te'o - Los Angeles Chargers

Te'o has dealt with a lot in his NFL career. Broken bones in each foot his first two seasons, the achilles tear that ended his 2016 in Week 3 and, of course, the embarrassing aftermath of the "catfishing" scandal out of college. 2015 was the one season that Te'o was healthy and his play was impressive to the tune of 107 tackles. The former Notre Dame captain could come cheap and would be worth the look.

Kiko Alonso - Miami Dolphins

Alonso will probably not end up in or even be an option for Pittsburgh. The Dolphins tendered Alonso, so he's going to cost teams a pick. The Oregon product is a stud in the 4-3 scheme. Although banged up in 2016, Alonso was one game short of a full slate. That has not been the case in his career of four years. He missed all of 2014 and five more contests in 2015. His 115 tackles are a big reason the Dolphins were feverishly looking to retain the former Bill and Eagle. But they now have Lawrence Timmons. So Alonso could be on the move again.