The Steelers have some choices to make when it comes to retaining players on their current roster. The offense has some key free agents they need to decide to sign or let go as well some other players owed big money in their waning years of their contracts. The offense is in some major flux as there are about as many free agents as there are contracted players. Here are five players with contracts who might become part of that chopping block process, and I’ll predict whether they stay or go.
5. O Willie Colon (Age 29 Yrs: 6)
The Willie Colon Experiment has officially failed. Not in the crash and burn kind of way, but this past season has proven that Colon will forever be plagued with injuries since he sustained the season ending one in 2011. Colon signed an extension after landing on the IR. It was a risky move for the Steelers and is proving to be a mistake. Colon landed on the IR for the third straight season, and is being paid way to much to be watching from the sidelines. Colon is due a whopping $5.5 million next season with a bonus that will count as $7.65 million against the cap. For a guy who may blow out his knee at the drop of a hat and has become penalty prone due to his intensity (though I admire him being the most intense player on that field), that is way too much money for a team that is $10 million over the cap and needing to sign up to 24 free agents. Colon will be released fairly quickly to help free up a bunch of money to start the offseason. Expect the fire sale to start with #74. My Prediction: Released
4. WR Jerricho Cotchery (Age: 30 Yrs: 9)
Jerricho Cotchery is one of the last physical wide outs the Steelers have on the roster. The intent in bringing in Cotchery back in 2011 was not to replace Ward but to compliment him. As the season progressed, and Ward’s productivity declined, it was apparent that Cotchery was the future as the slot receiver. Cotchery’s own productivity has been nothing close to what he was doing as a Jet prior to being a Steeler. But, with the Steelers retooling a bit at that position, Cotchery will at least stick around through camp. He only counts as $1.5 million against the cap, which is insignificant in the greater scheme of things. My Prediction: Stays
3. RB Baron Batch (Age: 25 Yrs: 2)
After a very promising training camp in 2011, Batch blew out his knee and was done before he could find a roster spot. The team decided to keep him on the squad to at least recover and see if he could impress in 2012. Batch had a decent camp in 2012 and found himself as part of the running back carrousel. Batch carried the ball only 25 times for an average of 2.0 yards per carry. Unimpressive even though he didn’t fumble the ball at any point. He’s only due his base contract of $450k, so he’s not a big hit on the cap. I think the Steelers will keep him for camp, but expect him to have a very short leash. My Prediction: Keep but release at camp
2. WR David Gilreath (Age: 24 Yrs: 2)
David Gilreath came to the Steelers last season and was mainly a special teams player. He took several snaps on the offense and rushed the ball once on screen in Week 11 against Baltimore. Gilreath is owed only $460k next season as a minimum. With Chris Rainey off the roster, I expect Gilreath to have a crack at the kick and punt return positions. He will also get numerous reps in the preseason to see if he can find a way up the depth chart in the receiving core. My Prediction: Keep’m
1. G John Melecki (Age: 24 Yrs: 2)
Melecki is a young guard who came from the Redskins in his rookie year after the cut him in camp. Aside from Colon, there aren’t too many offensive linemen that I feel comfortable the Steelers getting rid of before at least camp ends. He’s a physical guy, and I think good to have around if Tomlin ever decides to suit up more than eight linemen in a game. He’s due $480k, so no big hits on the cap. My Prediction: Keep’m
To recap, that Keep Cotchery, Gilreath, and Melecki and Release Batch (after camp) and Colon. What are your thoughts, Steeler Nation?