At precisely 12:01 tonight, the first stage of the 2009 NFL season kicks off. That’s when Free Agency officially begins, sending the league into a wild orgy of cash and courtship. No doubt the Washington Redskins will be one of the biggest spenders and no doubt they’ll end up on the outside looking in at the playoffs when December rolls around. And if everything works out for us, Baltimore will lose two of their three starting murderers thugs linebackers so they’ll be even easier to beat every time we play them.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have a number of players about to dip their gnarly toes in the free agent waters. I thought I’d give a quick rundown of those players and give a bit of commentary on what I think their future holds.
Restricted Free Agents (Steelers can tender them a contract. Another team can sign them for a higher tender but must surrender a draft pick roughly equal to what pick they were):
OT Willie Colon – One of our worst OL this year. Hopefully he’ll be pushed by a free agent pick up or early round draft pick because he was truly terrible. Still, the team needs players and might as well keep him around for a token raise.
CB Anthony Madison - Will likely be in the mix with CB William Gay for one of the starting CB spots next season when McFadden leaves. Also one of our best special team players. Most important signing of this group.
FB Sean McHugh - Our best option at fullback since Carey Davis is absolutely useless but must possess pictures of the Rooneys at a Furry Convention or something to be kept on the roster. Not going to make you forget Moose Johnston anytime soon although without a better choice, gotta keep him.
S Anthony Smith - I guarantee he’ll get a token offer. I don’t think Tomlin likes him much so it wouldn’t shock me if he walked, though.
Unrestricted Free Agents:
QB Charlie Batch – 35 years old and going into his 11th season. Actually, it’s more like his 16th because years spent with the Detroit Lions should count extra. The coaches seem to love him and I predict you’ll see him on our coaching staff when his playing days end. He’ll probably sign for a pretty cheap price since it appears he wants to ride off into the sunset with his hometown team. Toss him a meager contract and just pray he can hold it together for the next season or two until Dennis Dixon is ready to take his place.
P Mitch Berger – Hope the ring scores you a ton of poon, Mitch. We won’t be seeing you kick your magnificent soaring 30 yard punts next year.
CB Fernando Bryant - Washed up. Looked terrible when he played although he was only signed because of all the injuries to our regular DBs. We’ll keep his number in our Rolodex but I wouldn’t expect any contract offers from the Steelers or anybody.
OT Trai Essex – The Steelers had a terrible offensive line and this guy couldn’t start on it. That should tell you his talent level. I won’t say nobody will sign him because there are some desperate teams out there but I wouldn’t expect much interest. We’ll probably keep him for a minor raise.
LB Keyaron Fox – Special teams ace. Probably the best “gunner” we’ve had since Sean Morey left. Doesn’t seem to have the talent to be a starter so I doubt there will be a ton of bidding on a special teamer. Probably can keep him for a small raise.
LB Andre Frazier – Another backup. The thing is, it’s hard to tell how good our backups are because our linebackers are so fantastic, you could be a very good player and be buried on the bench.
OG Chris Kemoeatu - Good riddance. I expect some desperate team with too much cap room and too little brains to take a flier on him. He’s all potential. Kemo has the size and strength which would lead you to believe he’ll be a monster but he never plays up to his expectations. Some team will look at the potential and think they can coach it out of him. Better them than us. Along with Colon, one of our two worst performers on the line who won’t be missed. Especially if the Steelers can bring in a quality veteran like Indy center Jeff Saturday .
QB Byron Leftwich – Would love to keep him but with QB quality sucking around the league, he’s probably the best QB on the open market. Some team will dangle a starting position under his nose and he’ll have to jump at it. Thanks for beating the ‘Skins for us, Byron.
CB Bryant McFadden – Another guy I’m sure many of you desperately want to keep but it won’t happen. A starting CB on the #1 rated pass defense in the NFL? He’s going to attract a bidding war and the Steelers never get involved in bidding wars. Hate to lose him because he seems to finally be coming into his own but not enough cap room and too many holes/contract extensions need addressed to commit $5-6 million to him. Thanks for the memories, B-Mac.
OT Marvel Smith – Missed most of 2007, had back surgery, then missed most of 2008. Once a top notch LT, now too many question marks. Hope he can make a comeback but it will be for another team as it’s time to bid him farewell.
WR Nate Washington – Does the name “Antwaan Randle El” ring any bells? That was the last #3 receiver the Steelers lost to free agency when some dimwitted team (*cough*Skins*cough*) paid him starter money to be a third down slot guy. Somebody will make the same mistake with Nate, there are already rumblings the Titans see him as the answer to their lack of a big play reciever. They’ll be in for a nice surprise the first time he drops a perfectly thrown pass after he breaks free 40 yards down the field. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll miss Tiffin Thunder but a #3 WR who drops one for every one he catches isn’t that hard to replace.
Tags: 2008 Nfl Champions 2008 Nfl Playoffs 2009 Nfl Draft 2009 Nfl Free Agency 2009 Nfl Free Agents 2009 Nfl Offseason Anthony Madison Antwaan Randle El Bmac Bryant Mcfadden Byron Leftwich Charlie Batch Chris Kemo Draft James Harrison Jeff Saturday Keyron Fox Marvel Smith Max Starks Mike Tomlin Nate Washington Nfl Draft Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Steelers Steeler Free Agents Steeler Nation Steelers Steelers Nfl Draft Super Bowl Champions Tennessee Titans Tiffin University Washington Redskins