Steelers Free Agency Preview: Why Pittsburgh Must Pursue These 5 Players

Nick DeWitt@@nickdewitt11Analyst IMarch 12, 2012

Steelers Free Agency Preview: Why Pittsburgh Must Pursue These 5 Players

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers have limited cap space and usually don't make a big play in free agency, but this could be the year that they pursue someone to fill a need spot.

    Here's a look at five players that Pittsburgh should pursue this time around. It could be the difference between having a set roster in 2012 or depending on rookies and unproven players. 

Brandon Carr, CB

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    Carr is still a young player and has come a long way from being a fifth rounder in 2008. He may command a big contract in free agency.

    The Steelers need a corner to play opposite Ike Taylor. They'll look for William Gay to come back, but he may be too expensive at this point in his career. Restricted free agent Keenan Lewis is another option, but he still only has a handful of snaps to his name.

    Carr is someone the Steelers could sign long term as it would give them one of the best corner tandems in the league. The question will be money. The Steelers did pony up for James Farrior at one time. Maybe now it's time to take another gamble like that.

Carl Nicks, OG

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    The Steelers are looking for a replacement on the offensive line after they cut the expensive and disappointing Chris Kemoeatu. Nicks isn't going to be cheap, but he would be a great addition to the team.

    The Steelers were passable in pass-blocking once Max Starks returned to the team. They didn't do particularly well in run blocking, however.

    Upgrading the line is important as the team plans to balance their offensive scheme to be ,ore in line with the wishes of President Art Rooney II. That kind of upgrade likely can't be found immediately from a draft pick.

    The tackle spots seem solid enough. The guard spots are more of a concern. A guy like Nicks helps that.

Michael Bush, RB

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    Consider this a vote of no confidence in Rashard Mendenhall's future in Pittsburgh. It's more of a feeling than anything, but even before his injury the team just didn't seem very high on him. Now that he's hurt, I'm wondering if he won't find his way out of town before the season.

    The team has Isaac Redman as the starter now. He's not proven, but he's shown enough to warrant it being his job to lose in 2012.

    What he doesn't have is a clear, proven tandem back. I think that is more effective in today's NFL than one feature back doing the work.

    A guy like Bush would bring instant toughness to the backfield and would, along with Redman, give the team a dynamic rushing attack that can gain those tough yards.

Max Starks, OT

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    I wouldn't be. The team has no tackle depth at this point. Even if you view Starks as over the hill or think that he'll take time to come back from his injury, it could be important to have him in Pittsburgh once he's ready to return.


    The answer is simple. Jonathan Scott is the team's top backup. Worse, he's the top backup for a team that was decimated by injuries along the line last season.

    Another answer is Willie Colon. Colon has missed almost every minute of the last two years with various injuries. While the team restructured his contract and slotted him back in his spot at right tackle, who's to say he won't be hurt by the time the season opens?

    In the NFL, depth is important. Starks represents that.

Darryl Blackstock, LB

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    The Steelers almost always entertain a linebacker in free agency. They usually aren't the top name in the market or even in the top five. Blackstock isn't a household name and he isn't the kind of player that will draw big attention.

    The Steelers have a James Farrior-sized hole in the defense right now. Stevenson Sylvester will likely get the first crack to fill that spot, though it's possible that Pittsburgh may draft Dont'a Hightower to fill it.

    Either way, they need some younger depth than Larry Foote, especially if Sylvester steps up. Hightower is raw enough, but he needs some time to learn.

    A guy like Blackstock might be a good depth pursuit and is more in line with the type of players Pittsburgh goes after in free agency.