The future of two Pittsburgh Steelers offensive linemen may come down to the amount of money they think the organization should pay them. Ramon Foster and Kelvin Beachum are two Steeler linemen who are expected to hit free agency unless a new deal is reached.
The 2015 NFL season was not the first time Ramon Foster was called upon to endure a bigger role with the offensive line. The injury to Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey in 2013 opened up a gaping hole which teammate Ramon Foster assisted by just doing his job at the guard position. This year Pouncey got injured in the preseason game against the Green Bay Packers and missed the entire 2015 NFL season. There was one person who stepped up in his absence and that was none other than Pittsburgh Steelers guard Ramon Foster. Foster, who will be an unrestricted free agent, had a salary cap price of $2,150,000 in 2015. He was an undrafted free agent back in 2009 and earned his way up the ladder solidifying the guard position. Playing in over 100 games in his entire career, performing in 75 out of 80 of those games over the past five seasons, goes to show you how durable he is.
The Steelers got a solid three years out of Foster for a $5.5 million dollar deal. While many teams could pass on him due to his age, I believe Foster has many solid years ahead of him. I also believe the price a team is willing to pay requires a greater value than under $2 million per season.
Alejandro Villanueva was a solid backup for Kelvin Beachum, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during a week 6 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. When it comes to choosing a player that has provided solid coverage for Ben Roethlisberger, it is a very difficult task when you have two free agent linemen, on the same side of the line, that both need to reach a new contract.
Kelvin Beachum, who has an excellent draft story, was selected in the 7th-round of the 2012 NFL Draft. While many criticized him for being the smallest left tackle in the NFL, he has certainly made a name for himself. He quickly became a fan favorite and even teammate Ramon Foster thinks he is a top 5 left tackle. The injury Beachum sustained has created some speculation on whether or not he can still produce at a high level. Prior to his ACL injury, Beachum and the Pittsburgh Steelers organization discussed a contract extension before the start of the regular season; however, they both couldn't reach an agreement. The 26-year-old played out the final year of his four-year $2.146 million dollar rookie contract. The base salary that he made in 2015 was $1.542 million and as you would expect he would like to cash in on free agency.
The main question going into the offseason is whether or not the organization should keep guard Ramon Foster or Kelvin Beachum. While the offensive guard position is very weak, the left tackle position has a player in Alejandro Villanueva who had a terrific 2015 campaign filling in for the injured Beachum. Villanueva, in my opinion, could fill the left tackle position if Beachum decides to leave via free agency and move on from the Steelers organization. After a slight learning curve, Villanueva provided solid play and protected Ben Roethlisberger quite well for being a first-year tackle at the NFL level. While the Steelers would like to re-sign every player they had in 2015, it's quite possible that they may have to choose between Beachum and Foster.
The depth that perceives them is quite weak but considering how Villanueva played I would suggest that the team moves on from the younger Kelvin Beachum and keeps the veteran guard Ramon Foster. This move would not only be smart from a financial standpoint but rather for the stronger depth behind the left tackle position.