The Steelers saved $1.5 million against the $143.27 salary cap with the release of wide receiver Lance Moore.
Odds are good they'll want a Moore-type receiver - a veteran who's ok with a back-up role behind a trio of talented receivers. They'll want one who will also be ok with making less money.
It's become a receivers league, and in that, youth wins out. There are plenty of talented receivers likely to be available at the start of free agency March 10, and the amount of them could drive the price down a bit.
Value and experience aren't the only key factors here. A level of leadership, something Moore was in a position to provide, would also be beneficial. Markus Wheaton, the Steelers' third round pick in 2013, had an up-and-down season, and likely falls behind Martavis Bryant in the team's depth chart in 2015. Someone capable of pushing Wheaton for reps while creating enough competition to give Wheaton a sense of urgency is paramount.
Here are some options:
2014 team: Atlanta Falcons
Stats: 51 catches, 556 yards, two touchdowns
Douglas may still have a bit left in the tank, and wouldn't necessarily be ok as a fourth or fifth option in a passing offense featuring the most productive receiver in the game. It's not out of the question he can get a bit more money elsewhere in 2015, but he's worth a look, if for no reason other than a chance to battle Wheaton for snaps.
2014 team: Tennessee Titans
Stats: 40 catches, 647 yards, two touchdowns
The ex-Steelers receiver is a favorite in Tennessee, and may end up staying there on a shorter deal. That wouldn't prohibit Washington from returning from whence he came, but he may take less to stay in place - and want more for leaving. Either way, he still has some deep game left, and his leadership ability (he was a captain in Tennessee) would compliment the young receivers well. He also likely has established rapport with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, something Moore wasn't able to do.
2014 team: Denver Broncos
Stats: 49 catches, 464 yards, two touchdowns
Welker had issues in 2014, to put it mildly. Easily the least productive season since he left Miami, Welker can't be counted on to grab 110 passes anymore, but his shiftiness and ability to work short routes and creases in zone can be utilized from the slot in Pittsburgh. Considering Bryant's tremendous upside, Wheaton's long term position appears to be rounding into a slot receiver, so having a veteran there to work that position while Wheaton jumps inside and out can give the Steelers nice depth at the spot.
2014 team: Miami Dolphins
Stats: 39 catches, 474 yards, two touchdowns
Hartline fell apart to the point it's curious what exactly is going on within Miami's offense. His 2014 season alone is enough to convince any team to not guarantee him any money, yet, he's still close enough to a productive season in his past (76 catches and 1,016 yards in 2013) he'll get a shot somewhere. More of an outside receiver, but he's shown to be a solid one over the years.
2014 team: Washington Redskins
Stats: Zero catches, zero yards
Clearly not the most productive season a receiver can have, but the 27-year-old Hankerson missed most of last season coming off a torn ACL from 2013. He had 68 catches in 26 games from 2012-13, and scored six touchdowns. With a full season of continued work as well as the need to show his ability (and health) if he wishes to strike a long-term deal by 2016, it could be a good situation for him.