While the debate still rages on about whether the Steelers should sink their money into cornerback, Ike Taylor, there are two options that the Steelers should entertain. Taylor will come at a high price and there are other players up for free agency that the Steelers need to nab up. But are there really other options that come as a priority other than signing Face Me Ike?
I say yes and here are two, in no particular order.
1) Sign a third down back. Mewelde Moore has been with the Steelers since the 2008 season. His first season was rather productive because he started four of the sixteen games. But the past two seasons, he’s only garnered 575 yards and two TD’s after touching the ball 115 times. His receptions are by far a better stat, but one thing that is a large disadvantage for him as a third down back is his size. Weighing in at only 209 lbs. Moore struggles to break tackles and run up the middle or just off the edge. I would even argue that his receiving yards are only as high as they are because Ben usually hits him with a short pass on 3rd and long giving Moore with a bit of room to run – but not far. The Steelers could use that little extra punch on 3rd down by getting a back who has good hands but also enough beef to run up the middle on a 3rd and 4. It gives the Steelers a few more options at 3rd down and can keep the defense guessing so long as Ben is not forced to stand in shotgun every third down.
Now freshly drafted Baron Batch may or may not be that option the Steelers need. He’s younger than Moore, but according to his combine numbers, weighs roughly the same as Moore. The Steelers could take a chance, let Moore go and go for broke with Batch as the third down back. But, I think it would better for them to take a look for a back on the market who has better size and can give the Steelers that 3rd down run up the middle option.
2) Probably the bigger option to go for would be to sign a back up safety for Troy Polamalu. We’ve seen from my 2010 player review of Troy that the Steelers struggle when Polamalu is not on the field. The past two seasons, Polamalu experienced injuries that had him sidelined for 2 games or more. The Steelers record without Polamalu in the lineup was a mere 6-7. Polamalu on the field resulted in a record of 16-4. Will Allen is currently Troy’s backup but has not been very effective – especially in the ‘playmaker’ category. He came from Tampa this past season where he only started two games in 2009 and played in 8. His numbers are on the weaker side, and he’s only had one interception in over 69 games (5 seasons). The Steelers should really consider going after a mid-level safety to fill in for Troy if he is ever hurt (which has happened quite a bit lately). Sure, it might be a bit of money for a backup, but if that player could make a difference in a few games, that 6-7 record sans Troy could turn into a 9-4 record.
As I’ve been stating, we’re going to lose Ike. The Steelers just won’t have (or want to put up) the dough that Taylor will be seeking in a couple of weeks (I hope). Take those savings, sign the key free agents and go seek some more depth in these positions.