6 Pittsburgh Steelers Who Deserve Long-Term Extensions

Nick DeWitt@@nickdewitt11Analyst IApril 13, 2012

6 Pittsburgh Steelers Who Deserve Long-Term Extensions

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers, believe it or not, have players not named Mike Wallace that are in line for long-term contract extensions. Several players have done admirable work and will be major targets for other teams unless they are locked up now.

    The Steelers don't have the cap space to make all of these moves right away, but they do need to get the ball rolling before they lose one of these six great playmakers.

Antonio Brown

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    Brown will be a free agent in 2013 after playing out his rookie contract. In the two years Brown has been in Pittsburgh, he has gone from a promising rookie fourth receiver to one of the brightest young stars in the NFL.

    Brown is arguably a better receiver than Mike Wallace because he is more versatile. Wallace stretches the field with some of the best speed in the NFL, but he doesn't do much beyond that.

    Speed is his weapon.

    Brown is a do-it-all guy. He catches short, medium and deep passes. He can run any route. He can do whatever is needed. That's the kind of guy I'd hand out a big money extension to keep. Wallace just isn't that important if the Steelers can keep Brown.

Stevenson Sylvester

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    Sylvester falls into the wait and see category for these extensions (not everyone needs to get one today), but if he lives up to the billing, he's a guy that the team will want to lock up for awhile.

    Three-fourths of the team's linebackers are under contract on big extensions. With Sylvester claiming James Farrior's old spot, he'll basically be auditioning for his next contract. Word is that Sylvester is a great player in waiting.

    We'll get an indication of his future during the early rounds of the draft. If the Steelers bite on a guy like Dont'a Hightower in the first round, it may be bad news for Sylvester.

Ziggy Hood

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    I remember when Hood was drafted. I scratched my head a bit and I wasn't alone. He seemed like a bit of a reach for the Steelers, but he was well worth the investment that was made. That five-year pact runs out in a couple of years and it might be time to start thinking ahead.

    The Steelers can wave Cameron Heyward in his face and buy some time, but Heyward hasn't proven a whole bunch so far.

    It's still really early.

    Hood has become an integral part of the defense. His move into a starting role was brought on more quickly by the sudden decline of Aaron Smith. Now he's a mainstay. It's time the team thought about extending that original deal so that they can keep the exterior of their defensive line intact.

Isaac Redman

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    This is another for the wait and see pile. I have a feeling that we haven't seen all that Redman is capable of doing yet, but we will see it finally in 2012. The Steelers will have to make a decision after that. My bet right now is that they'll want him around awhile.

    Rashard Mendenhall is the bigger name, but I don't see the team giving him an extension unless he recovers quickly from ACL surgery and does a complete turnaround. The Steelers just seem disenchanted with their former first-round pick.

    Redman, however, is a guy who seems to be going places. He performed very well at every chance last season and emerged as a great back behind a poor line.

David Johnson

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    David Johnson is a key cog you may not really know a bunch about. He's the team's lead blocker and backup tight end. With Leonard Pope's arrival, he may be move of a fullback from now on, but that's still an important role on a team that's planning to do more running.

    The Steelers will need to lock Johnson up long term, however. Pope is only on a one-year deal and my belief is that they'll negotiate with Johnson before they will try an extension with Pope.

    Johnson is an important piece and a versatile one that I'd liken to a healthy and prime Chris Cooley. He's a tremendous talent that's vastly underrated.

Mike Wallace?

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    I actually don't see it. I think Wallace is worth a long-term deal, but not for the dollars he's asking. He wants a contract commensurate with being one of the top receivers in the NFL. He's not even the best receiver on the team, merely the more experienced of the two starters.

    I don't want to diminish what Wallace has done. He's been excellent. But there comes a point where a guy is just too far into the clouds. Wallace is there. I wasn't worried about him leaving before and I'm even less concerned now that Jerricho Cotchery is back for a couple seasons.

    If Wallace brings down his lofty price, I think he's worth a good extension. If he doesn't, some other team can overpay him.