The Pittsburgh Steelers have cleaned house and purged the team of a lot of veteran leadership this offseason.
Although players like Hines Ward, Aaron Smith and James Farrior will be missed, the Steelers have the talent to overcome.
Furthermore, Pittsburgh are definitely not done trimming the roster of aging veterans. Here are six who could be gone after the 2012 season.
Rashard Mendenhall is most likely going to be placed on the PUP list, which means he would miss the first six weeks of the season and probably more.
Although Mendenhall had a bad season last year, he still had nine rushing touchdowns and has scored a total of 29 touchdowns in his three seasons as the starter.
Having said that, the Steelers have a bunch of good RBs on the roster, and would have no problem letting Mendenhall walk after this season if he asks for too much money.
It seems like a long shot that the Steelers would cut James Harrison.
That is, until you look at players like Jason Gildon, Alan Faneca, Rod Woodson and others.
Every one of those situations was different, and not every guy was straight-up cut. However, the Steelers have never been shy about getting rid of veterans when they feel they need to.
When you couple that with Harrison’s age, his injury problems and the team's problems with the cap, I do not think this is entirely out of the question.
Larry Foote may end up winning the starting ILB spot alongside Lawrence Timmons this season, but he could be gone next year.
The Steelers have been trying to get younger at almost every position on defense, and Foote will be pushed by Stevenson Sylvester and Sean Spence.
The only way I see Foote remaining with the team beyond this season is if the Steelers want him as a veteran backup.
At this point, whether or not Casey Hampton will have to be placed on the PUP list is still up in the air. Either way, most think this will be his last season with the Steelers.
Hampton has been a rock on the Steelers defense ever since he became a starter, and I’m kind of hoping he’ll just retire rather than play with a different team.
Regardless, with Steve McLendon and heir apparent Alameda Ta’amu on the roster, it would take Hampton coming back for next to nothing for the Steelers to keep him, in my opinion.
The Steelers have finally listened to the fans and moved Willie Colon to guard. Now we just have to hope the move works out.
Although we all expect Colon to make a smooth transition, we still aren’t 100 percent certain on what will happen or if he’ll stay healthy.
If Colon struggles this season at guard or misses significant time due to injury, I think the Steelers would just get rid of him.
Ryan Mundy has been a solid backup safety for the Steelers since he was drafted in the sixth round of the 2008 NFL draft.
Unfortunately for him, he will always be known now for biting on the play-action touchdown pass in overtime against the Denver Broncos in the playoffs.
I would not be surprised to see the Steelers offer Mundy a small contract next year. However, I also expect the team to go after a safety early in the draft.