It’s a lazy Sunday with my Steeler mug of coffee. March is quickly approaching, and the ‘March Massacre’ is less than two weeks away – and that means the impending roster cuts and free agent ‘no signs’ have been weighing heavily on my mind. We’ve already looked into who might be the first to go, and I’ve even looked to next off season with the potential of Polamalu being cut. But today it’s James Harrison and the linebackers that I’m thinking of.
Hombre de Acero of SB Nation wrote up a great article on James Harrison and how back in 1996 the Steelers were faced with a very similar situation at linebacker. Back in ’96 the Steelers were faced with trying to sign future Hall of Fame’r (well someday) Kevin Greene. They gave up on Greene to save money, but also had the confidence that a man by the name of Jason Gildon would step up in Greene’s place. To refresh your memory, Gildon is the all time leader in sacks for the Steelers with 77. Though this situation is not exactly the same, there are similarities abound that might give a glimpse to what might pass in March for Harrison and the Steelers: Greene was getting up there in years (so is Harrison), Greene had some injuries that affected his play (so did Harrison), Greene was costly to retain (Harrison is a huge hit on the cap if he stays), and two Jason’s (Gildon then, Worilds now) were showing great progress in development. The coaches and GM’s are different – but I think Steeler Nation could expect the same result as we witnessed with Greene in ’96. Let’s just hope that the next Jason is as productive as the last one.
Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree has been on the Steelers mock board for a little while now, and he seemed to be a good fit for the Steelers as a pick in this year’s draft. That is until his latest run in with the law. PFT and Steeler Depot reported that Ogletree was arrested for DUI in Arizona last weekend. That is yet another dent in Ogletree’s character. Other red flags include a theft and a positive drug test. I think the Steelers have holed themselves a little when it comes to character flaws with incoming players, even though Kevin Colbert stated that each player’s flaws are unique and that each one is taken into consideration. It would be difficult to justify a pick like Ogletree when it seems like he has a habit of getting into trouble and this wasn’t just a ‘one time deal.’ Ogletree’s stock will slide because of his troubles. That now puts two potential linebacker selections – Ogletree and Te’o – into positions where the Steelers (should they decide to roll the dice) may trade down for one of these two and gain a pick out of it. Should be interesting come draft day.
Speaking of Manti Te’o. Alan Robinson of TribLive threw in his two cents on Te’o and the Steelers. Robinson argues that Te’o is a pretty perfect fit for the Steelers, even though his off the field troubles have many questioning his ability to be a true leader on and off the field. With Larry Foote probably out the door as one of the lowest rated linebackers and Sylvester and Johnson leaving via free agency, the Steelers are actually more pressed at linebacker (AGAIN) than at any other defensive (or even offensive) position. The Steelers may pick Te’o despite his invisibile girlfriend issues simply out of great need – someone must compliment Lawrence Timmons at the inside position. I’m still not sold on Te’o being ‘the guy’ for the Steelers inside linebacker roster. Despite his magical world of imaginerium, Te’o performed poorly in the National Championship game and showed that he is indeed a flawed player that needs work over being a plug and play defenseman.