Pittsburgh Steelers: 5 Reasons Why They Will Be Quiet in Free Agency
The 2012 free agent signing period got off to a furious start and as usual, the Pittsburgh Steelers sat back and watched the feeding frenzy.
Pittsburgh will be sitting on the sidelines for quite awhile and let the dust settle before they begin to assess the market.
It should not be a surprise that the Steelers will be passive during free agency; it's how they operate.
Pittsburgh should be quieter than usual this offseason, and here are the reasons why.
Lack of Cap Space
The reason is obvious. Pittsburgh cannot be a player in free agency because they do not have the cap space.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac, the Steelers offers to their restricted free came to a total of about $9 million, leaving only about $1.5 million to work with.
Pittsburgh will have to clear further cap space before they can make any major moves, including signing Mike Wallace to a long-term deal (more on that on the next slide). This may mean more restructures to players such as Troy Polamalu and James Harrison.
The Steelers could potentially release Casey Hampton or reduce his salary at some point of the offseason.
But until that cap space is available, things will be relatively quiet on at Steelers headquarters on the South Side.
The only catch that the Steelers really need to make is Mike Wallace, and that may not even happen.
As I wrote earlier, the Steelers cannot afford to overpay Wallace, but by the same token, they must leave enough cap space to sign him to a long-term deal (assuming the two sides can work something out).
Pittsburgh invests virtually all of their money in retaining their own talent and fills in minor needs without outside players.
Before the Steelers seriously entertain signing anyone, they need to figure out the status of Wallace.
Potential Loss of Starters
Besides Wallace, the Steelers have a number of other starters on the free agent market.
William Gay is an unrestricted free agent, and Pittsburgh may consider bringing him back at a low cost. That would eat up valuable cap space.
The rest could go to restricted free agents Doug Legursky, Ramon Foster and Keenan Lewis, who all received the lowest tender meaning that a team would have to compensate the draft pick in the round that each player was drafted.
Neither Legursky or Foster were drafted, meaning there is no risk for any team signing them to an offer sheet, besides the Steelers having an opportunity to match.
Both players have started in a Super Bowl and, while they're not outstanding, are serviceable.
Lergusky could start in some places around the NFL and is a valuable backup, while Foster is a developing lineman who is not great, but is developing nicely and provides power on the right side of the line.
Pittsburgh needs some insurance just in case either of these players gets an offer.
The same can be said for Lewis, who carries a third-round compensation.
Lewis could step into the starting role if Gay leaves and may be due for a contract extension as well. He would be a relatively cheap option for the Steelers to start opposite of Ike Taylor.
Prices Are Way Too High
A lot of dollars were spent on Tuesday, maybe too many dollars.
Pierre Garcon and Cortland Finnegan are nice players, but at five years and $42.5 million and $50 million, respectively? Not quite that nice.
These players are way out of the Steelers' ballpark as are most free agents.
Pittsburgh simply cannot find a top-notch free agent to come in and be a star. They do not have the money, and it is not their style.
Instead, the Steelers spend their money on their own talent, such as Troy Polamalu, LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons and Ike Taylor last year.
Historically Have Not Made Major Moves
James Farrior was one of the best free agent signings ever. Jeff Hartings was an excellent addition to continue to Steelers' lineage at center. Kevin Greene fit the "Blitzburgh" defense.
Beyond this, the Steelers have rarely made major moves in free agency. Instead, they make under-the-radar signings, find a veteran who can help groom a rookie or add depth.
Ryan Clark was a great signing. Not a well-known player, but was affordable and fit the Steelers' needs. Mike Jones was a player who was brought in to fill in at inside linebacker until Kendrell Bell was ready. Both Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich have been quality backup quarterbacks.
Even on their signing spree in 2010, there were no big names. Instead, they brought back Larry Foote and Antwaan Randle El as backups, filled gaps in special teams with Arnaz Battle and Will Allen, and addressed the offensive line with Jonathan Scott and Flozell Adams, who was able to start on the right side.
So far, it has only been reported that tight end Kellen Davis will visit the Steelers. He would be the quiet type of signing that you would expect from the Steelers.
I would not expect anything more than this type of player this year.
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