Like in past years, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be very limited in free agency. That could be for multiple reasons. The team will once again be cap strapped to begin free agency, but they will also likely play it conservative as always. Here are a few under the radar options who could make a big impact for the Steelers.
Red Bryant-DE-Seattle Seahawks
Red Bryant was released by the Seahawks a few weeks go, only 2 years into his 5-year $35,000,00 contract. The main reason behind his release was due to the fact that Bryant was a 323 pound behemoth playing a defensive ends role. Men his size usually don’t play a defensive end role in a 4-3 scheme. However, Bryant would be a perfect 5-tech defensive end in Dick LeBeau’s 3-4 scheme. I am of the camp that believes the Steelers should bring in a nose tackle this offseason and move Steve McLendon to defensive end. If Bryant signs, however, his 323 pounds could provide the big body on the defensive line that is needed. McLendon could then stay at the position he already knows.
Bryant would undoubtedly have to take a reasonable deal for the Steelers brass to sign him. Bryant will be 30 years old by the time the season starts, but he only has 6 years of experience so he is a relatively ‘fresh’ 30. A deal in the neighborhood of 3 years and $14 million would be a reasonable agreement for both parties. Bryant would likely be looking for a team that uses a 3-4 scheme where he could be a close full time player. The Steelers would be a perfect fit.
Major Wright-S-Chicago Bears
Major Wright is, in my humble opinion, the most underrated free agent on the market this year. He was hampered by hamstring an neck injuries last year and was still able to produce. Despite the injuries Wright tallied 100 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 interceptions in 2013. He even bested his career mark in tackles by 29. While the Steelers just signed Troy Polamalu a 3-year extension, Ryan Clark will not likely return to the Black and Gold next year. Second year player Shamarko may not be able to take on a full time role, especially at free safety. Wright is only 26 and has tons of potential. After Polamalu’s 3 year deal is up, Wright and Thomas could form a very nice safety tandem.
Wright could likely be had for a reasonable deal, as he battles injuries from last season. A 4-year $17 million contract would be a good deal for both parties. Wright plays very aggressive and fits the Ryan Clark mold of a free and strong safety hybrid. It would be nice for the Steelers and Dick LeBeau to enter 2014 with 2 safeties that have the same skill set as the mainstays from most of the past decade.
There is a reason that there are 2 Seattle Seahawks on this list. John Schneider and the entire front office in Seattle does an outstanding job of evaluating talent and then developing talent. That is why Thurmond, who would be a starter for most teams in the league, was the third or fourth option for the Seahawks last season. This is the reason that he could be an ideal target for the Steelers this offseason. Thurmond only amassed 32 tackles in his limited role this past season, but he could play a much bigger role in the Steel City next year. He could form a very formidable combination with Cortez Allen for the foreseeable future.
Sadly I believe that Thurmond is the least likely of these three to actually be wearing the black and gold next season. As much as I would like to see Ike Taylor out of town next season, I find it unlikely that it will happen. I fear that the team will keep Taylor on with a reduced salary for the 2014 season, the last year of his deal. If Taylor is gone, I think a 4-year $15 million deal and a role as a starter would be enough to get Thurmond into the Steel City.
Any of these three names could be very nice additions for the Steelers defense in 2014. What do you think Steelers Nation? Which one of these players would be the best addition? Who else would make nice additions to the Steel Curtain? Please leave you opinions in the comment section.