Free agency rings in at midnight Friday night/Saturday morning and the Steelers will be busy for the next couple of weeks.
The team has 24 free agents to sign between the offense and defense, and with them yet to be under the salary cap, the Steelers will be hard pressed to keep them all. The question once again this season for fans is ‘Will the Steelers break their free agency stagnation and sign a big name this time around?’ It seems like the team hasn’t grabbed a high impact player in free agency since in a loooong time. The M.O. is to retain, draft, or recycle (see Willie Gay).
The situations with Willie Colon and James Harrison have further complicated matters. Reports this week from various sources say that the team is in talks with keeping Colon around while most of us expected the team to release the fragile and underperforming lineman. James Harrison is trying to find ‘common ground’ with management with either a pay cut or restructure. But, even on Friday, reports are surfacing that the two sides may part ways. If Harrison stays and restructures, he is still costly to the cap than he would be as ‘dead money.’ Thus are the continued complications of team finances when a team consistently restructures contracts every single season.
There are a few players out there to note that the Steelers could make a play for. Safety Dawan Landry comes to mind. The Steelers should look to draft a safety this year. The Steelers never start the young’ins out on the field in the first year or two, so they need someone who could potentially replace Troy Polamalu or Ryan Clark if one of those guys should get injured (which is bound to happen). Landry has put up solid numbers in his six seasons and could be a good backup for the right price. Ryan Mundy is a free agent, and it is highly doubtful that the Steelers will even offer him any deal to stay with the team. Their other backup, Will Allen did fairly well last season, but someone like Landry could alleviate all the anxiety were Polamalu and Clark miss any playing time.
WR Ted Ginn is another upper middle of the road free agent that might be worth a bit of pursuit. Ginn was not a huge factor in the 49′ers passing game the last two seasons, but his blazing speed of a 4.28 40 made him a huge threat with returns. The Steelers dumped Chris Rainey, and really don’t have an electric return man other than Antonio Brown. With the expected farewell of Mike Wallace, Brown is set to be seated at #1 in the WR rotation and more than likely won’t be returning kicks or punts – or at least he shouldn’t be doing that kind of double duty. Ginn would give the Steelers the return man the desperately need as well as a fast deep threat that is not as costly as Wallace. Ginn did have a very good kick return season, so he could be asking for a ton dough for those services. Still worth an offer at least.
It’s doubtful any will take the bait, but it would be foolish to not test any of the market. Not all of the Steelers’ free agents are worth keeping, so they might be able to snag someone of significance within the first few days with the savings gathered.
What are your thoughts, Steeler Nation? Will the team make a splash in free agency, or will we be begging for another A+ draft by The Brass in April?