Looking at the Steelers’ offseason priorities
We wrote a post on Wednesday breaking down the Packers free agent priorities.
The folks over at NBCSports.com liked the post enough to ask if we could do one for all 32 teams. (And there’s so little news this time of year we’ll actually follow through.)
Sure, free agency may not be until August. Like NFL teams, however, we need to be prepared for every scenario. Each team’s free agent priorities won’t change in the meantime.
Today, the AFC Champion Steelers get the treatment as we primarily look at expected unrestricted free agents.
The big one: Lamarr Woodley.
Woodley was Pittsburgh’s best defensive player in the playoffs. He’s a huge part of their future and Pittsburgh will likely use the franchise tag to keep him before working on a long-term deal. James Harrison has set the bar high for linebacker contracts.
The key ingredients: Right tackle Willie Colon and cornerback Ike Taylor.
The Steelers have three players arguably worthy of the franchise tag. Colon’s free agent value may be down after missing 2010, but he was arguably Pittsburgh’s best lineman before he got hurt. They are too thin at tackle to let him go.
Taylor is the best cornerback on the team. He’s the type of good, not great player with a lot of big game experience that could strike it rich on the open market. He may prove tough to keep.
The tackle problem
Colon is a free agent. So is backup left tackle Jonathan Scott, who started in the Super Bowl. 16-game starter Flozell Adams is due $5 million next year, which is more than he’s worth. Backup guard Trai Essex, who was drafted as a tackle, is also a free agent.
Role players: Running back Mewelde Moore, center/guard Doug Legursky, linebacker Keyaron Fox, cornerback William Gay, defensive linemen Chris Hoke and Nick Eason.
The Steelers still need a backup running back/third-down specialist, so Moore could be return. Legursky made himself some money against the Packers. Fox is good for crushing special teams penalties in the Super Bowl. Gay never quite developed and could be gone.
Specialists: Punter Daniel Sepulveda and kicker Shaun Suisham
The Steelers have to be the only team with their starting punter and kicker unsigned. Suisham may not be back after his Super Bowl hook and Sepulveda is coming off a torn ACL.
Long term thinking
Troy Polamalu’s contract ends after the 2011 season. He’s next in line after Woodley for a big extension.