Originally posted on Bleed Black & Gold  |  Last updated 2/2/12

The final installment of the Steelers 2012 Team Needs is Inside Linebacker.  It may seem like a back door need as of right now but when it comes to Salary Cap crunch time it may become a front line need.  The Steelers are anywhere from $22-$27 million over the cap depending upon who you talk to and have to be below the salary cap by the start of the new league year.

Two players who very well could be on the chopping block are James Farrior and Larry Foote.  One or the other or even both could be cut to save in cap space.  Between the two of them the Steelers could save almost $6 million in cap space off of the number they need to get down to. 

Foote would be a $3 million dollar saving if he was released.  Farrior would save the Steelers $2.8 million.  Both guys have bonus numbers which are right around a million.  So instead of paying 9 million for the two of them we could pay less then 3.  That is a much better number for guys who do not play every down.  They are splitting time with one another and this is to much to spend on that.

That could make this position an extremely big need in a hurry.  If we were to just release one we may be able to make it another year.  There is a good chance that both could go.  The only player left on the roster to replace them at that time would be Stevenson Sylvester.  He is not ready nor may he ever be to be a starter on this team.

If the Steelers were to look in free agency for a replacement they really do not have to look far.  They could stay in the division with D’Qwell Jackson from Cleveland.  He is only 28 and had 158 tackles last season and was a beast versus the Steelers.  Him next to Lawrence Timmons would be a great middle.  If they can not get Jackson they may want to look at former Penn State Linebacker Dan Connor.  Connor played well this season after Jon Beason was lost for the season.  Beason will be back next year and Connor will need a new team join.  He could be a good option if the need arises.

The Steelers could also go to the draft.  That is where I would be looking.  The Steelers could take Alabama Linebacker Dont’a Hightower in the first round.  He is a thumper who could replace both of these guys from day one.  He is my number one prospect for the Steelers in this draft.  If I had to choose between a rookie and a free agent this is the way I would go.  At least at this position.

There are options out there for the Steelers.  If they were to keep one of the two linebackers between Foote and Farrior I think I would keep Farrior.  Even though he is a liablity in the passing game I would rather have his leadership and his teaching ability to whoever the Steelers were to bring in if it was through the draft.  He is this teams captain and even if he splits time with someone like Hightower next season he would be better for the team.

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