The Pittsburgh Steelers have a long list of free agents about to hit the open market on March 9th. The complete list of free agents is lengthy, and certainly not all free agents are as critical as the next. So who is the biggest free agent the team faces this offseason? ESPN.com says it is left tackle Kelvin Beachum, but are they correct?
See what they had to say about why Beachum is the most important free agent the team has to deal with this offseason.
Kelvin Beachum will be the most expensive of the Steelers' bunch. Left tackles usually get paid, and you could argue Beachum was a top-10 tackle before tearing his ACL in Week 7. Free agents William Gay and Ramon Foster are valued veterans, but the team can work out something reasonable with those two. With Beachum, the Steelers already offered a contract before the 2015 season. The two sides were too far apart then; now, Beachum doesn't want to slide to guard after the emergence of Alejandro Villanueva. Basically, all signs point to Beachum getting paid elsewhere.
The fact of the situation which goes unnoticed is the depth behind Beachum. Alejandro Villanueva played a very solid brand of football throughout the second half of the season, and very well could have made Beachum expendable, especially coming off a major knee surgery midway through the season.
Most fans will point out the lack of depth behind Villanueva as a concern, but they are possibly forgetting the fact Mike Adams will be returning for another season after spending 2015 on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Fans should remember how well Adams played in 2014 when he spelled Marcus Gilbert during minor injuries. Adams, if he were able to reclaim his form, could be the backup swing tackle the team would need to keep them afloat in 2016.
Other than Beachum, there are plenty of valuable veterans who could be considered to be the most important. In my opinion, you have to add salary cap space and expected contract value into the equation. As mentioned by ESPN, left tackles draw big money, money which the Steelers don't necessarily have; however, in the case of William Gay, he could be brought back for a reasonable price, while still playing at a high level.
Beachum is important, just as any left tackle is important, but coming off injury and having a high asking price might be considered the "biggest" free agent on the team's roster, but not the most important, in my opinion. Securing the team's best cornerback would certainly trump the left tackle position, especially with Villanueva and Adams set to return in 2016.