Dec 29, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) reacts alongside running back Le

Pittsburgh Steelers: Options at RB and WR in Free Agency


The Steelers seemingly set out at the start of free agency with the objective to get the defense younger. At this point they can consider that mission accomplished. While there are certainly more moves that can be made, the signings of Mike Mitchell and Cam Thomas have certainly provided some youth and depth for the defense. Now, with the departures of free agents Emmanuel Sanders and Jonathan Dwyer, the offensive unit could use some attention as well. What’s left in the free agent market for the Steelers at running back and wide receiver?

After Monday’s re-signing of offensive lineman Guy Whimper, the Steelers remain just less than $3 million under the salary cap at this point. Now there can still be some restructures/extensions happening with players like Lawrence Timmons and of course Ben Roethlisberger, as well as signing Jason Worilds to a long-term contract to lessen his cap hit to create more cap space if the Steelers intend on doing some more free agency shopping.

For the running back position, the needs are clear; Le’Veon Bell is the starter first and foremost so a backup running back, with some experience to help spell the soon-to-be sophomore halfback would be ideal. According to CBSSports.com the remaining running backs in what they consider to be the top-15 are:

Knowshon Moreno

Maurice Jones-Drew

LeGarrette Blount

John Kuhn

Vonta Leach (FB)

Andre Brown

Le’Ron McClain

Michael Bush

Green Bay’s James Starks had a meeting with the Steelers scheduled for Tuesday, but cancelled it after re-signing with the Packers. I don’t know if the Steelers would be shopping in the top tier of available free agent running backs, considering they wouldn’t be needing to overpay for a backup. Keep in mind that LaRod Stephens-Howling and Felix Jones are still available as well, for what it’s worth.

This years’ draft is reportedly very thin at running back as it was last year as none are expected to go in the first round so that, along with the inexperience of Bell as the starter would lead me to think that a veteran (on the younger side of “veteran”) would be a great pickup at the right price. Unfortunately, those guys just don’t grow on trees.

The options at wide receiver get a little trickier. When it comes to the Steelers depth chart right now, Antonio Brown is the undisputed #1 receiver on the team, but life without the possibility of a veteran like Jerricho Cotchery looks pretty dim considering the minimal experience of the guys behind Brown. Not necessarily the lineup of receivers you’d give to a quarterback like Roethlisberger to work with.

CBS Sports says that the remaining available wide receivers of their Top 22 free agents are:

Miles Austin

Devin Hester

Kenny Britt

Santonio Holmes

Sidney Rice

Lance Moore

Jacoby Ford

Jerricho Cotchery

Jason Avant

Now some of those guys on that list are still looking for top WR money, so there’s no use in even entertaining the idea of them. Notice that they’ve ranked Lance Moore, who has a meeting scheduled with the Steelers on Tuesday, ahead of Jerricho Cotchery, who is meeting with the Carolina Panthers currently. Moore is coming off of a bad year in 2013 while Cotchery is coming off of a career-high year and both are relatively the same age. Moore had a career-high year in 2012, while Cotchery’s 2012 numbers are way lower than last year’s. While I think Steeler Nation, including Ben Roethlisberger, would prefer Cotchery return over the addition of Moore, I think there might not be that big of a drop off between the two.

When it comes to the draft, the Steelers can go nuts at wide receiver if they want to, that’s how deep it is. Still, you’d like to provide Roethlisberger with a little bit more proven weapons than Brown and some young guys wouldn’t you?

What are your thoughts, Steeler Nation? Where do you see the Steelers going in free agency for the RB and WR positions?

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Tags: Emmanuel Sanders James Starks Jerricho Cotchery Jonathan Dwyer Lance Moore Pittsburgh Steelers Steelers Free Agency 2014

  • daddeeekip

    Even if the Steelers resign Cotchery, I would like for them to sign Miles Austin. I am sure they could get him for a low price

    • Milliken Steeler

      Miles Austin is always hurt with more hammy problems than Woodley. Why would we want someone to ride the pine?

  • Dom DiTolla

    If that list is any indication, the Steelers will need some serious help on the offensive side of the ball. To believe that they shouldn’t be targeting instant-impact playmakers at wide receiver, tight end and even running back on the first and second days of the draft is a joke.

    Of course, I’ve resigned to the fact that they’ll use their first four-five picks on defensive players who will rot on the bench under LeBeau for much of their rookie contracts while everyone wonders “what if” when it comes to the offensive playmakers they passed over to take them.

  • datdudedre’

    I was always of the thinking that Jerricho Cotchery was a prime free agent for us, and should be treated as such. He’s not a marquee prospect by any stretch, but don’t underestimate his value to us. The receiver corps needs his experience and moxie. We will have NO ONE other than Antonio Brown who has caught more than 10 passes on our roster if he’s not resigned!! That is a crucial statistic regarding our receivers. Markus Wheaton may very well be ready to assume the number 2 role, but it’s a helluva gamble to make at this point. The proper plan is to re-sign Cotchery, and let Wheaton continue to develop along with whomever we draft. If this is not possible, then any receiver on that list should be brought in on a 1 or 2 yr deal. I like Austin, but I agree there’s some injury concerns with him. But he is 6’2”. Jason Avant is another name I like. He’s tough out of the slot and has good hands. If we could know we’re getting the 2012 version of Lance Moore, he’d be a good signing. But at 5’9” he’s a slot guy only, still leaving us without a true number 2. Antonio Brown has played like a number 1 and got a nice contract to do so. Do we spend a 1st rd pick on a receiver, with the idea of making him the number 2 guy? I just think we have bigger needs.