Found January 05, 2013 on
SteelBlitz Steelers Blog:
The Steelers offense is much younger when compared to the defense. Over the past few years the Steelers have focused on the offensive line in an effort to resurrect the run game and protect Ben Roethlisberger. It will be up to the Steelers front office and coaches to determine whether or not they are content with their offensive lineman and where they stand in terms of position players on offense.
Due to cap limitations the Steelers will likely lose both Rashard Mendenhall and Mike Wallace in free agency even if they would like to keep one, or both, if they had the money. Back-up quarterbacks Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch are also free agents along with wide receiver Plaxico Burress, guard Ramon Foster, tackle Max Starks, center Doug Legursky and tight end Leonard Pope.
Pittsburgh will also have three restricted free agents on the offensive side of the ball: wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, running back Jonathan Dwyer and running back Isaac Redman. All three players should return to the team in 2013. Sanders could be in line to replace Mike Wallace and Dwyer may be the Steelers starting running back in 2013 replacing Rashard Mendenhall for good this time.
With cap issues there could always be cap casualties on both sides of the ball. On offense the possibilities would be guard Willie Colon and tight end Heath Miller. Cutting Colon would save the Steelers $5.5 million in 2013, but would also create a dead money hit of $4.3 million in 2014. That is a net savings of $1.2 million, but it could be helpful to save that money in 2013 especially with the cap expected to increase in 2014 due to added TV deals.
Cutting Miller will never happen, but if he is going to miss extended time with his knee injury it could be an option. They could also restructure Miller to save money in 2013 if it is needed. Other restructures could be in the works as well.
Restructures could come from Ben Roethlisberger, Heath Miller (as stated) and well that’s about it. Roethlisberger can save the team around $8.5 million by restructuring his contact. That savings will be made and will make a big difference in the Steelers cap issues this off-season.
As for free agents Wallace and Mendenhall are as good as gone. Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich could both be on their way out of town. Batch would be welcomed back as the third option potentially, but could retire and Leftwich is too injury prone to rely on at this point.
Plaxico Burress could be a good one year stop-gap at receiver if the Steelers lose Wallace. Ramon Foster played very well in 2012 and the Steelers could make the decision to cut Colon and re-sign Foster. Doug Legursky has shown how valuable he is as a back up center and his ability to play guard makes him a solid back-up. If his price is fair he will be back.
Max Starks has been very good each of the past two seasons, but he showed he was healthy and is a solid tackle and will get a better deal on the open market. Leonard Pope played very sparingly on offense and should be allowed to walk. The Steelers can find a more valuable tight end for less money.
So where will the Steelers be looking to draft for offense in 2013?
With running back lacking a true go-to talent they could target a new back in the draft. The 2013 NFL Draft is not a deep running back class, but there are some decent late round options that could spark interest from the team.
Wide receiver could be looked at with the inevitable loss of Mike Wallace. Brown and Sanders are expected to be the future at the position and Jerrico Cotchery and Plaxico Burress would give the Steelers some veteran depth and leadership at the position. If they don’t see a guy they want, however, they could deicide to keep David Gilreath as the fifth guy and see if he progresses.
Charlie Batch and Leftwich could both be on their way out of Pittsburgh this off-season. That leaves a void at back-up quarterback. A draft pick would be a smart move as the team could use a young quarterback to groom as a potential replacement for Roethlisberger or future back-up.
Tight end could also be targeted in the draft. Heath Miller will likely miss time during the 2013 season with his knee injury and Leonard Pope may be gone via free agency. 2012 seventh round pick David Paulson will be in the mix at the position, but the Steelers may not be ready to start him in place of Miller if he misses time.
Possible Free Agent targets:
Back-up quarterback could be a position filled in free agency. There are three quarterbacks hitting the open market that the Steelers could kick the tires on. Brady Quinn, Tavaris Jackson and Colt McCoy could all be solid options as the back-up to Roethlisberger. None of the three are expected to be offered starting jobs and may take fair deals to play as back-ups for a contender. Also, when you are Roethlisberger’s back-up you know you will get at least a couple shots to play each season.
The Steelers could look for a free agent wide receiver to replace Mike Wallace. One name many Steelers fans have thrown around is Dwayne Bowe, who played for Todd Haley in Kansas City. However, Bowe will likely be looking for a similar contract as Wallace and the Steelers would probably rather keep Wallace if they were to pay that amount.
Other receivers that could be available include Johnny Knox, Devery Henderson, and Ted Ginn who could all replace the speed that the Steelers will lose with the loss of Wallace. All three are also veterans and will bring some experience to the position which is needed. Another potential option is Darrius Heyward-Bey who could be on his way out in Oakland. Bey has some ability and great speed and a change of scenery may be just what he needs to turn around his young career.
Tight end could be targeted in free agency. One very likely option as a potential replacement for Pope is David Johnson. Johnson blew out his knee in the pre-season and is a likely option to return in 2013. Johnson is a more valuable back-up than Pope because of his ability to block and play full-back as well as tight end. Johnson is also a decent receiver and there would be no drop off between Pope and Johnson if that decision is made.
The 2013 off-season will be a busy one for the Steelers and the team is sure to look much different when the 2013 regular season begins. Things can always change in terms of draft needs; especially once the Steelers make decisions on free agents. Only one thing is certain as of right now: the Steelers front office has a tough task in front of them.
The post Steelers Offensive Draft Needs: Replacements for Mike Wallace and Rashard Mendenhall Could be Addressed appeared first on SteelBlitz.
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